Responding to heat stress in flying-fox camps

Over the past two decades, a number of documented heat stress events have resulted in significant flying-fox mortality.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress or hyperthermia occurs when the body produces more heat than it can dissipate. Post-mortems suggest that flying-foxes mainly die from resulting heat shock i.e. the body can no longer function effectively.

Heat stress affects flying-foxes when temperatures reach 42°C or more. 

Responding to flying-fox heat stress

While there is conflicting advice about how or whether to intervene during a heat stress event at a flying-fox camp, it should be noted that human presence in a camp at such times can increase the stress and activity levels of flying-foxes present, potentially leading to greater harm.

The following advice is provided for people who choose to respond to heat stress events in flying-fox camps, which should be undertaken as an organised and monitored response.

It is recommended that data is collected after the heat stress event and provided to scientists able to analyse the data and to help the Office of Environment and Heritage share best practice management techniques as they are developed. The data collected will help improve future advice on intervention during these events.