LETTERS: Let's get the facts right on those bats
Further to my letter (QT 29th February) "Busting some popular myths" - flying fox numbers are not increasing.
In fact, of the three species in our area, black headed and little red flying fox numbers are currently stable, but the grey headed flying fox is threatened. The perception that their numbers are increasing is due to two main factors.
1. The little red flying fox forms large communities. They follow the availability of food and join nearby camps. So when they do, it looks as though numbers are massively increasing. But this is temporary, and their occupation usually lasts only one or two months.
2. The other is the fragmentation of their habitat. The huge expansion of urban areas with the clearing of large areas of bushland has caused food shortages, which has led to flying foxes moving closer to food trees. This leads to many smaller colonies forming in urban areas.
1. Planting low, dense trees and shrubs around fence lines helps form a barrier that discourages flying foxes.
2. Planting trees or leaving stands of trees that they like to camp in, in areas away from houses encourages them to use these.
3. The noise of flying foxes reaches an acceptable level at only 100 metres away. Leave colonies that are reasonably tolerable alone.
4. Disturbing colonies makes them noisier. Leave them alone for a more peaceful life - for them and us.
5. Culling is liable to cause local extinctions which can lead to extinction of a species.
6. Dispersing them is rarely successful. They usually move only a few hundred metres away, and eventually come back. Or move to somewhere else where they are even less wanted. Dispersing them simply wastes public money.
7. If you come across a flying fox that is injured, sick or tangled in barbed wire or nets, don't attempt to handle it - call a wild-life rescue group (or vet).
8. Educate people so that they can understand the ecological value of flying foxes and the fact that they do not pose a threat to human health.
I believe that it is the responsibility of public officials and politicians to inform themselves by consulting experts and acting on their advice instead of acting on public perceptions.
DR CLARE RUDKIN, Barellan Point
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