Flying-foxes are native to Australia and their roosts are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. These animals are essential pollinators and seed dispersers for native forests, making a significant contribution to maintaining healthy ecosystems. In turn, native forests provide valuable timber, act as carbon sinks, and stabilise river systems and water catchments, and provide recreational and tourism opportunities worth millions of dollars each year.
Management needs to be responsive to the social and economic needs of the community, while protecting flying-foxes and the long-term environmental benefits they provide.
For current maps of recorded roosts in Queensland, refer to flying-fox roost locations.
The department understands the community and flying-foxes come into conflict in some circumstances. However, disturbing or dispersing flying-foxes without a damage mitigation permit is an offence and penalties apply.
What is disturbance?
Disturbing, or attempting to disturb, a flying-fox includes approaching, harassing, harming, luring, pursuing, teasing or touching it. Penalties for disturbing a flying-fox are up to $1000.
What is dispersal?
Dispersal, or attempting to disperse, is causing a flying-fox move away from its roost, or deterring a flying-fox from returning to its roost. Examples of dispersing a flying-fox include using sound, light, smoke or chemicals to move it from its roost. Penalties for dispersing a flying-fox roost are up to $100,000.
Where the department believes that the Nature Conservation Act may be breached, monitoring for compliance will be undertaken.
Managing urban flying-fox colonies
The department uses five principles for managing urban flying-fox colonies. These are:
- educating and consulting with the community
- only considering dispersal of a flying-fox roost after thoroughly assessing the situation
- dispersal is a last resort
- alternative roosting sites must be available before any attempt at dispersal is approved
- attempts to disperse a flying-fox roost require approval of a director and will only be carried out by people authorised under a damage mitigation permit.
As land owners and managers representative of their community, local governments are often involved in issues associated with flying-fox roosts.
The department encourages local governments to approach wildlife management proactively and strategically by developing flying-fox management plans. These plans constitute a property management plan (PMP) under section 21 of the Nature Conservation (Administration) Regulation 2006. Councils holding an approved plan can apply for a damage mitigation permit for up to three years, instead of the usual six months.
During development of these plans, the department works with councils to implement long-term management strategies so that flying-fox roosts in or near urban communities can be managed sustainably. This is significantly more effective than councils reacting, often at very short notice, to obtain a damage mitigation permit.
Management plans should build capacity for the community to live alongside flying-foxes; for example, by identifying potential habitats outside residential areas. These areas could be made more attractive to flying-foxes by planting food trees, removing weeds and creating buffer zones that minimise disturbance of roosting animals and any adjoining development.
Dispersal of flying-foxes or flying-fox roosts is subject to the stringent conditions applied through the property management plan.