Flying Foxes in Coolum

 

The Sunshine Coast Council has received Federal approval under the EPBC Act to undertake non-lethal dispersal of the flying-fox colony in the Cassia Wildlife Corridor in Coolum.  The dispersal will be undertaken from dawn on Monday 22 July for approx. 10 days. Senior council staff, including conservation officers, fauna experts and wildlife carers will be on site and the process monitored as the dispersal action progresses during this period.  This is a very small window as the grey-headed flying fox (listed as Vulnerable under the EPBC Act) as the females are soon to enter their final trimester of pregnancy.  The State government (Dept of Environment & Heritage Protection) has issued a Damage Mitigation Permit for 3 years. The Federal approval has been issued for 5 years.

SCEC raised concern regarding the dispersal when Council took the decision to undertake dispersal on 23 May despite the sound and comprehensive report by Council officers not to do so, primarily on financial and ecological grounds.  While intended to be non-lethal, there are a range of impacts to which this important ecological species, already in trouble, will be subjected.

 

 

The potential direct and indirect impacts to the Grey-headed flying-fox population are;

• Injury

• Disorientation

• Fatigue/Exhaustion

• Malnutrition

• Fragmentation of colony

• Cumulative sleep debt

• Disruption to breeding cycle

• Damage to hearing

• Abortion of young

• Dropping of young/abandonment of young

• Disruption of breeding cycle at alternative roost sites

• Overcrowding at alternative roost sites

• Increased stress / dehydration at alternative roost sites

• Increased pressure on food resources nearby to alternative roost sites

There is also a high level of uncertainty as to the success (or otherwise) of this action.  The colony could well be dispersed into several smaller colonies requiring ongoing action if deemed to present a conflict.  While SCEC acknowledges the discomfort of those residents affected, the extent of the action, in terms of environmental impacts and cost ($90000 for this initial action-borne by all ratepayers out of the crucial Environment Levy) is incredibly disproportionate.   A report will go to Council on the action in November. Will keep you posted and please let us know your views. Follow the following link to view SCEC's submission: EPBC 2013-6909 comment-SCEC submission

Here’s Council’s media release…

Media Release

17 July 2013

Council to commence flying-fox dispersal at Coolum

Sunshine Coast Council has received the green light to attempt to disperse a Flying-fox colony at Coolum that has impacted nearby residents.

Non-lethal Flying-fox dispersal actions will commence on Monday, 22 July 2013, at Cassia Wildlife Corridor now that council has received all required state and federal approvals. The dispersal action will be funded by the Environment Levy Reserve at an estimated cost of $90,120. Division 9 Councillor Stephen Robinson said the actions would be welcomed by residents living in close proximity to the Flying-fox roost.

“Although a relatively small number of residents are adversely affected by the roost at Cassia Wildlife Reserve, council has a duty to help them and that is what we are now going to do,” he said.

“We have a small window of opportunity to undertake these dispersal actions due to the annual Flying-fox breeding cycle, so council now needs to move quickly to perform these actions so as not to cause the animals any unnecessary harm.”

Nearby residents are currently being notified by council of the upcoming dispersal actions and a briefing meeting will also take place prior to the actions. While the equipment being used is likely to cause some noise disturbance, the council would appreciate residents patience during this time. The wildlife corridor will be closed during the operation and local residents are requested to not enter the corridor area during the period of works. Residents can support council’s action by reporting any issues on wildlife@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

A report will be presented to council by November 2013 detailing the outcome of the Flying-fox dispersal actions at both Cassia Wildlife Corridor, Coolum and Tepequar Drive, Maroochydore which council is also seeking approval to undertake dispersal action at.

ENDS

Media enquiries:  Media and Public Relations Officer Luke Pownall, (07)54208991 or 0409 580870