Flying Fox deterrent actions start on Esplanade

Published: 29 Apr 2016
Council will begin flying fox deterrent activities near the Esplanade Lagoon plaza tomorrow from 3:30am to allow for cleaning and tree trimming works.

The deterrent activity, aimed at preventing flying foxes from landing, involves lights and a specially designed sound machine emitting city noises like the emptying of recycling bins, distant sirens, traffic and street noise.

A notification has been lodged with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on an ‘as-of-right’ basis to allow Council to undertake flying fox roost management activities for up two weeks, including management activities required at different locations to mitigate impacts from the activities at the target roost.

Mayor Bob Manning said the flying fox breeding season coming to an end meant Council had more opportunities to respond to flying fox activity in the CBD.
“There are significant limitations on what actions we can take during the breeding season of the threatened Spectacled Flying Fox,” Cr Manning said. “But with the season coming to an end, we now have options available to us to nudge the flying foxes to a more desirable location.

“The deterrents are designed to prevent the flying foxes from resting in these trees during the normal ‘fly-in’ times (approximately 3:30am to sunrise), rather than trying to lift them once they are settled for the day.

“While it is difficult to predict flying fox behaviour, we are hopeful this activity will move the flying foxes on to allow some necessary maintenance and cleaning of the trees and surrounding area, while preventing them from developing a more permanent roost at the site.

“We are also pleased to have the support of our Flying Fox advisory committee, which is made up of local wildlife carers, qualified ecologists and internationally renowned flying fox researchers,” he said.

The machine emits directional sound that is concentrated into a 30 degree cone that will ensure minimal impact on surrounding properties.

While flying foxes have not been present at the site for the last two mornings, deterrent activities will still be employed on Saturday as a precaution.
Flying foxes
Cairns is home to a large number of Spectacled Flying Foxes (SFFs). There are 44 known roost sites across the Cairns local government area, of which six are listed as Nationally Important Camps. SFF roosts are mainly seasonal; numbers, longevity and composition of the camps is constantly changing, the exception being the roost at the Cairns City Library.

In April 2015, Council sought advice from leading experts including scientists from the CSIRO and the Melbourne and Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, to assist in formulating an holistic approach to long-term flying fox management.

Based on this expert advice, Council has adopted a multi-faceted strategy to managing flying foxes in urban areas, particularly in the Cairns city centre. It aims to balance protection of SFFs and the amenity of residents through:
management approach – using scientific advice and data on flying fox population numbers and movements to determine what actions (if any) will occur;
action - responding to immediate concerns;
community education and awareness to debunk myths about SFFs and provide residents with scientific facts about SFF populations, behaviors and diseases; and
collaboration with State and Federal Governments on all matters relating to management of spectacled flying foxes, including compliance, conservation and recovery planning.

The documents below include fact sheets about flying foxes and management approaches.

Sound Machine

Council currently has a sound machine on loan from the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens to assist with approved deterrent and dispersal activities. The machine was used for the same purpose with great success at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The sound machine can be engaged from the very early morning before fly-in times or may also be use to lift flying foxes already resting in a tree, depending on circumstances and approval types.

The noise machine is a highly directional audio device which means the sound directly in line with the device is significantly louder than in the back and on the sides. The majority of the acoustic output power is concentrated in approximately a 30 degree cone in front of the device. Wherever possible, the device will be pointed directly at the intended target (i.e. up or towards the tree). Operators will maintain an exclusion zone when the device is in use.

Nearby businesses and residents can expect to hear sounds such as distant sirens, whips cracking, flying fox calls, construction noise, demolition noises etc. The greatest success has been found in using a range of different noises at various intervals.

The exact track can be heard here.
Flying Fox information
PDF File icon
Emerging infectious diseases: bats and viruses (1.5 MB)
Presentation from Biosecurity Queensland (2009) about emerging infectious diseases from bats.
MS Word Document icon
EOI - Flying Fox Management Advisory Committee (762.0 KB)
Expression of Interest form for Flying Fox Management Advisory Committee. Applications close on Wednesday 2 September 2015.
PDF File icon
Flying Fox Assessment Matrix (96.9 KB)
Flying Fox Assessment Matrix PDF
PDF File icon
Flying fox facts and myths (163.4 KB)
Factual information about Flying Foxes, including Spectacled and Little Red Flying Foxes, prepared by Dr Martin Cohen (Wild about Australia).
PDF File icon
Management of Flying Foxes General Policy (136.0 KB)
This policy outlines Cairns Regional Council’s position on Flying Fox Management within designated urban areas in accordance with relevant legislation. The provisions apply to defined urban areas designated within Council’s planning scheme as having a residential or commercial purpose including a buffer of one kilometre. The defined urban areas will collectively be referred to as Urban Flying Fox Management Areas (UFFMA).
PDF File icon
Report on flying fox dispersal in Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens (by Dr John Martin) (1.3 MB)
Report on managing flying fox camps in New South Wales: background and recent experiences.

Useful links
Flying Fox Advisory Committee


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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Flying Fox deterrent actions start on Esplanade
Flying Fox deterrent actions start on Esplanade
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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