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Remove Cocos to deter flying foxes

SUBURBAN THREAT: Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland vice-president Connie Kerr, holding a flying fox, suggests ridding yards of Cocos palms.
SUBURBAN THREAT: Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland vice-president Connie Kerr, holding a flying fox, suggests ridding yards of Cocos palms. Claudia Baxter

REMOVING Cocos palms will help deter flying fox populations from Ipswich back yards, says a Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland spokesperson.

The popular palm trees grow in many suburban yards but according to the Ipswich City Council the species is a registered environmental weed.

Wildlife carer Connie Kerr said while the tree's fruits were toxic to flying foxes, they accounted for 30% of the animals' food source.

"Humans have destroyed their habitat and we have provided a new food source in our residential areas," said the rescuer of 13 years.

"They have come to rely upon the Cocos fruit for food.

"When we get them (flying foxes) in they are screaming in pain and agony from the acidity.

"Some can be saved but it's not a good success rate.

"They require intensive treatment to get them back."

It is not only the berries which are hazardous.

"The seed is fibrous and can get embedded in their teeth and their mouth becomes jammed open and they starve," Ms Kerr said.

The group has responded to incidents where flying foxes have become trapped in palm fronds or killed by dogs as they retrieved fruit from beneath trees.

Two of the four flying fox species are listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Ms Kerr said the animals play a crucial role in the environment as pollinators.

"They are the only pollinator of a lot of the eucalypt," she said.

"We know this because there are certain eucalypt flowers which only open upward and at night.

"Most koala-feed trees are only pollinated by flying foxes. Take the flying foxes out of the picture and koalas are doomed."

With a downturn in available native nectar and pollen due to extended wet weather, the animals were becoming dependent on suburban fruit-bearing trees.

"If you don't want to cut the tree down, the other option is to remove the fruit each year and dispose of it," Ms Kerr said.

"Raking up the seeds on the ground will prevent pets from a potential bite from a flying-fox trying to defend itself if it came to the ground to eat the seeds."

Ms Kerr said the Cocos palm had become a weed because it was prolific at germinating.

Ipswich City Council provides financial incentives and technical support to landowners to remove Cocos palms on their property.

If you find an injured flying fox phone 1300ANIMAL or BCRQ on 0488 228 134.

Topics:  flying foxes



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