Consultation opens on flying fox relocation plan


Published: 03 January 2020. (Note: information was correct at date of publication but may have since been changed or superseded.)

A plan to use noise and lights to relocate spectacled flying foxes roosting in the Cairns CBD to a more suitable, natural environment will be open for public consultation from Monday 6 January.

Council has been in discussions with the Federal Department of Energy and Environment (DEE) regarding the Cairns Flying-fox Relocation Management Plan since March 2019. The plan details steps to relocate about 5000 spectacled flying foxes currently at the Cairns Library roost, amid concerns for the welfare of the animals.

As part of the process, the DEE has stipulated a 3-week public consultation period, between Monday 6 January and 5pm on Friday 31 January, giving residents an opportunity to comment on the management plan.

Councillor John Schilling, who sits on the Flying Fox Advisory Committee, said flying foxes were an important part of the natural environment, but there are growing concerns that leaving them to roost in the CBD will result in future negative impacts.

“Council’s concern is for the welfare of the flying foxes and the urban environment is not healthy for them,” Cr Schilling said.

“Heat stress events, urban development and increased construction in close proximity to the Cairns Library roost will only continue to stress and adversely affect the flying fox population.

“This is why Council is hoping to deter spectacled flying foxes from roosting in the CBD and find a more suitable and natural rainforest environment.

“No-one wants to see more losses; we need to reduce losses, and this is our best way forward."

The proposed relocation plan involves the use of a variety of noise and light deterrents under the direction of a professional contractor and in line with the recommendations of environmental officers.

Council has been successfully using similar deterrents to discourage flying foxes from roosting along the Esplanade for several years with no injury or stress caused to the animals in that time.

“The deterrents will discourage the flying foxes from roosting in the library roost trees but will have little impact on surroundings areas,” Cr Schilling said.

“If approval for the plan is granted by the Department of Environment and Energy, it is expected the relocation process will start in May or June, following the annual breeding season.”

It is hoped the CBD flying foxes will be encouraged to move south, close to where Council constructed a flying fox release enclosure at Edmonton at the end of 2018, to assist carers with their efforts when releasing animals back into the wild.

"In other places where they've had similar facilities where they've cared for orphaned young flying foxes, they've noticed the adult bats tend to congregate around that," Cr John Schilling said.

Viewing the Cairns Flying-fox Relocation Management Plan

Copies of the Cairns Flying-fox Relocation Management Plan will be available from 6 January 2020 until COB on Friday 31 January 2020 at the following locations:

  • Cairns City Library – 151 Abbott St, Cairns
  • Cairns Regional Council Administration Building – 119-145 Spence Street, Cairns
  • State Library of Queensland – Cultural Precinct, Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane
  • Council’s website

Public comment

Public comment on the Cairns Flying-fox Relocation Management Plan can be made:

All comments must be received by COB (5pm AEST) Friday 31 January 2020.

Last updated: 18 June 2020