Flying-foxes are a keystone species within Australia’s mammal populations and the ecosystems that they affect. They are an integral part of the ecosystem and are important dispersers of pollen and seeds of a wide range of Australian native plants across the eastern seaboard.
Two species of mainland flying-foxes currently have a protected listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)—the Grey-headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and the Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus).
While very important to the ecosystem within the eastern states of Australia, the population of flying-foxes coincides with a large proportion of the Australian human population, inevitably leading to tensions. Flying-foxes also have an increasing tendency to roost in urban areas, or congregate in large ‘camps’ for short periods of time in urban areas, or close to urban areas. This behaviour has significant impact on residents, business owners and the local government bodies left responsible for dealing with the impacts of these animals. Similarly, the fruit-eating nature of the flying-foxes causes tensions with agricultural elements of the community as well.
The Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, wrote to the Committee in mid-October 2016 regarding representations to his office about the impact of flying-foxes in the eastern states of Australia, and asked the Committee to consider including the issue in its work program.
The report is comprised of four chapters and outlines the evidence received by the Committee, as well as the comments and recommendations of the Committee in relation to the issue of the management of nationally protected flying-foxes in the eastern states of Australia. Specifically:
Chapter 2 provides background on flying-foxes and their impacts across the eastern states of Australia.
Chapter 3 outlines the current regulatory framework for protection and management of flying-foxes at a Commonwealth, state and local government level, as well as some examples of management actions that were brought to the attention of the Committee.
Chapter 4 concludes by considering potential areas for future investment, research and action regarding flying-fox management in the eastern states of Australia.