During the day, flying-foxes roost in patches of trees, known as camps, which may contain tens to thousands of individuals. At night, flying-foxes disperse from camps to feed across the landscape.
Flying-foxes are protected in New South Wales by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
It is an offence under the Act to harm or attempt to harm a native animal, unless authorised by a biodiversity conservation licence or approved code of practice, or an exemption under the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017.
Saving our Species is the NSW Government’s statewide program that aims to secure threatened plants and animals in the wild in NSW. Under this program, the grey-headed flying-fox is assigned to the Landscape species management stream. Landscape-managed species are best helped by addressing threats such as habitat loss or degradation within a landscape.
The conservation project for the grey-headed flying-fox includes an action toolbox of priority actions to address key threats that could be undertaken by a range of stakeholders.
Key threats to flying-foxes
Key threats to flying-foxes include:
- loss of foraging and roosting habitat
- conflict with humans at urban flying-fox camps
- incidental deaths from entanglements in barbed-wire and fruit netting, electrocutions on powerlines, and poisoning and injuries from exotic plants such as cocos palms
- heat stress.
Visit Heat stress in flying-fox camps for more information.
Impacts of flying-fox camps on communities
Flying-fox camps close to urban and regional settlements can create issues for the community and require proactive management. Communities may be impacted by noise, odour and flying-fox droppings. These issues can be addressed by effective camp management actions and working with impacted communities.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Flying-fox Camp Management Policy 2015 empowers land managers, primarily local councils, to work with their communities to manage flying-fox camps effectively. The main purpose of this policy is to minimise health and lifestyle impacts of flying-fox camps on people, at the same time as avoiding unnecessary harm to flying-foxes.
The focus of the policy for the management of flying-foxes is to minimise the immediate impacts of flying-foxes on people, as well as a longer-term approach to the sustainable management of flying-fox camps and streamlined authorisation of actions at or near camps.
Visit Flying-fox camp management and Living near a flying-fox camp for more information.
Impacts of flying-foxes on agriculture
Flying-foxes can potentially have an impact on commercial fruit growers, especially during prolonged periods of flying-fox food shortages.
The most reliable method for mitigating impacts is using full-exclusion netting or throwover netting.
An independent review of licensing was commissioned in 2008 to assess the validity of the NSW licensing policy for the legal harm (including killing) of flying-foxes.
This flying-fox licensing review concluded that shooting is ineffective when larger numbers of flying-foxes visit orchards and is a contributing factor to the decline of the species. In response to the review panel's recommendations, licences to harm flying-foxes have only been granted under special circumstances since 1 July 2015.
Visit Flying-foxes and commercial crops for more information.
Key management approaches