Cairns is home to a large number of flying-foxes. Most of these are Spectacled Flying-foxes (SFFs) but at certain times of the year, small numbers of Little Red Flying-foxes can also be found. There are 44 known roost sites (or camps) across the Cairns local government area, of which six are listed as Nationally Important Camps. SFF roosts are mainly seasonal with numbers and composition of the camps changing constantly. The Cairns City Library camp is the only camp that is occupied throughout the year.
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 and long-term approach to flying-fox management. This meeting clearly indicated that eliminating flying-foxes from Cairns was neither feasible nor desirable and that strategies that minimised impacts and prevented increases in conflict needed to be identified.
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 and acting to minimise conflict;
- community education and awareness to debunk myths about SFFs and provide residents with scientific facts about SFF populations, behaviours 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 first baby flying-foxes for the 2016 birthing season have now been spotted. Births can happen any time from September through to March each year. If you see an adult or baby on the ground, on a fence or in a bush, please do not touch it.
There are qualified volunteer carers ready to help. Please phone one of the numbers below for assistance. The volunteers can often be busy, so if you reach an answering service, please ensure you leave a detailed message with the day and time you called, exact location of the bat, and your contact details in case further information is required.
- Bat Reach: 4093 8858 or 0459 942 519
- FNQ Wildlife Rescue: 4053 4467
- Wildlife Care and Rescue: 4036 1984
Remember, most camps in the Cairns area are inhabited by SFFs which are listed as 'Vulnerable' and are protected under Australian Law.
Council employs a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) machine to assist with approved deterrent activities in Cairns City when required. 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.
Council is proud to be working closely with local wildlife experts and carers in developing up to date information. Special thanks to Wild About Australia, Connie Kerr and Helen Douglas for their photo contributions.
Cairns Flying Fox Management Advisory Committee - Expression of Interest - information
CRC Flying Fox Relocation booklet (1.4 MB)
Information about the Cairns CBD flying fox relocation.
Emerging infectious diseases: bats and viruses (1.5 MB)
Presentation from Biosecurity Queensland (2009) about emerging infectious diseases from bats.
Flying Fox Assessment Matrix (96.9 KB)
Flying Fox Assessment Matrix PDF
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).
Management of Flying Foxes General Policy (37.9 KB)
Outlines Council’s position on Flying Fox Management within designated urban areas in accordance with relevant legislation.
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.