Bats in space – Satellite tracking to be deployed for flying fox management

A $2.7 million investment over three years, a satellite and some clever monitoring is what the State Government is banking on to finally end the long running locals versus bat battle.

BatsEnvironment Minister Dr Steven Miles has announced the funding which he says will be allocated in next week’s Budget and aims to assist Council to track, monitor and get ahead of the establishment of flying fox colonies.
The State wide program will commence, here later this year in Charters Towers before being extended across the State.

The cunning plan will see CSIRO scientists will fit little-red flying foxes with GPS transmitters that track their movements by satellite. In turn scientists and council gain a greater understanding of their roosting preferences, where they feed and the factors that influence their behaviour.

The use of GPS transmitters and satellite monitoring will allow flying fox movements to be tracked and interpreted across thousands of kilometres.

The Minister says it makes good sense to launch the project in Charters Towers.

“We also acknowledge that while Councils can move roosts on, they have no control over where they go next. So understanding their movements will make sure Councils aren’t just shuffling a problem around their community, or to a neighbouring Council.”

“By starting the project in the north of the state, we can track flying fox movements around that area, as they come and go into Cape York Peninsula, and as they make their way down to the southern and central parts of the state,” Dr Miles said.

Bats2Dr Miles says North Queensland is the gateway between the Cape York Peninsula where hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of little-red flying foxes spend winter before heading south in the warmer months in search of flowering Eucalypt.

Dr Miles said the Government recognised the need to manage urban flying-fox roosts to address community concerns, while ensuring the long-term survival of these species in the wild.

“We recognise that some flying fox roosts in built-up areas need intervention to protect residents from nuisance impacts such as smell and noise. And we also recognise the vital role played by flying foxes in pollinating native plants and maintaining forest health,” Dr Miles said.

Dr Miles said information gained from this work would guide future decision-making and approaches to the management of flying fox roosts in urban areas.

“This research is intended to improve our understanding of flying fox behaviour – and will benefit residents from the far north to the state’s south-east,’’ he said.

The Minister has committed the Government to working closely with local governments to improve council practices, but councils will continue to have authority to manage flying-foxes at roosts in urban areas.
“Councils can carry out more intense urban roost management activities as long as they obtain a Flying-fox Roost Management Permit from the Queensland Government.

“In keeping with our election commitment, we will review the flying-fox management framework and introduce changes as necessary.

“Any future decisions must be scientifically-sound and not put flying-fox populations at risk,” he said.