FLYING foxes that have made a new, unwelcome home in a large fig tree in the middle of Cairns’ CBD may have been dispersed from the library colony.
Cairns Regional Council has cordoned off the Moreton Bay fig outside The Woolshed on Shields St, advising that emergency tree pruning works are soon to be carried out.
Linda Kirchner, the council’s community services general manager, said falling branches this week prompted the need for further assessment of the tree’s condition, and a public safety risk had been observed as a result.
The tree has become home to dozens of spectacled flying foxes, which conservationists claim moved in about two months ago.
Ms Kirchner said tree officers were working with relevant authorities to investigate options to enable pruning of dead branches in the interests of public safety.
“Council is awaiting further advice as to the most appropriate methods for undertaking the pruning,’’ she said.
The Woolshed owner Dominic Davies said the broken limbs on the tree were a result of the flying fox colony.
“I’ve been here 20 years and there’s never been a problem,’’ Mr Davies said.
“The tree has been maintained in a safe fashion, and the council has always done what they’ve needed to do and the tree has been thriving.
“Now you’ve got the minority lobby groups that are all up in arms about providing an environment for bats, which are also obviously thriving, and they have got the council on the hop.
“A limb fell off that tree because it would have been ordinarily trimmed earlier, but they didn’t because of the bloody bats.”
He said human safety should always take precedence over that of animals, particularly in the middle of Cairns’ city centre.
Environmental Defenders Office North Queensland treasurer Brynn Mathews believed the roosting bats had become fragmented from the Cairns library colonyas a result of council activities.
He said conservationists would be monitoring any council activity at the tree to ensure there were no breaches of the state’s Nature Conservation Act 1992.