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Flying foxes take roost at Lake Guthridge and Lake Guyatt

Issued: 
January 11, 2021
Photograph by Jan McNeill

A colony of grey-headed flying foxes has taken roost at Wellington Shire sites including Sale's Lake Guthridge and Lake Guyatt.

They are Australia's largest native bat and, as pollinators, play a crucial role in the health of our forests.

The significant size of the grey-headed flying fox colony is thought to be because of the loss of habitats in Eastern Victoria due to last summer's fires. The colony has also been aided by this year's prolific one-in-20-year flowering event of local red gums, which has provided ample nectar and pollen.

Bats are foragers and will travel to where food is available, which means that they will likely move on when resources diminish. Council does not have a definitive time frame for how and when this might occur.

Council is consulting with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on how best to manage the colony.  

There is no current proposal to attempt to relocate the colony as this is not in the best interests of the bats, is prohibitively expensive and, as shown by experiences elsewhere, proves mostly ineffective.

Grey-headed flying foxes are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 as they are a nationally threatened species. Penalties apply for harassing or disturbing them. The bats are sensitive to noise, so it is in their best interests to minimise noise when near them.

Grey-headed flying foxes pose no risk to humans when they are flying overhead or roosting. It is very important, however, that flying foxes are not handled because a small percentage may carry Australian bat lyssavirus or Hendra virus. Neither droppings or urine can spread these viruses, so it is not dangerous to have a colony sited nearby.

If you see a bat on the ground or low in trees this indicates it may need help. Do not touch a bat. To alert a wildlife carer, call Moonshadow Flying Fox Rescue on 0429 930 138 or DELWP on 136 186.

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