Look to the sky at night and sure enough you will see a black winged creature swoop across the sky in search of a fruity feast.
Bats are everywhere in south-east Queensland, with millions of the nocturnal creatures finding homes in Brisbane suburbs and causing concern for residents.
However, before you call your local arborist to get rid of what you think may be the problems trees filled with bats, you may want to consider of few things first.
Bat Colonies Are Protected
All flying foxes and their roosts are protected by law and two species, the grey-headed and spectacled flying foxes, are nationally listed as vulnerable species.
General manager of conservation strategy and planning at the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), Clive Cook, told ABC Radio that bat colonies are protected for important reasons.
“The relative view that we’re putting flying foxes before humans is totally untrue,” says Mr Cook.
“The law is made to try and protect the balance… to ensure that we don’t have a human-induced extinction process.”
Your backyard is the perfect habitat
According to the ABC, Researcher Billie Roberts says backyard gardening has incidentally created attractive habitats for bats in urban areas.
“In many areas, we have actually planted food trees that are attractive to flying foxes… we’ve planted a number of nectar-excreting plants such as grevillias and eucalypts.
“Many of these trees are now mature and we’re not only attracting birds, we’re attracting flying foxes. We’re creating a regular and reliable food source for these animals.”
Louise Saunders from Bat Rescue and Conservation Queensland says there’s also a seasonal factor.
“The (bat) population is all up here in Queensland, enjoying this amazing flowering of eucalypts and melaleucas.
“It doesn’t mean that they’re out of control and the populations are going crazy, it only means that they’re here in relation to the flowering.”
Food trees have already been removed in one dispersal program (under a Damage Mitigation Permit), near the Gold Coast Turf Club, resulting in the flying fox colony moving away.
You can keep bats out legally
There are several things residents can do to discourage bats from their backyards.
Cocos palms produce a bunch of seeds with a fruity coating that attracts bats but it isn’t their natural food and leads to very sticky bat poo.
The palms have been declared a weed by Brisbane City Council and a range of other local governments.
“Remove them if you can or cut the seeds off after the flowers have been pollinated,” says Louise Saunders to the ABC.
Using appropriate netting for fruit trees is another deterrent, but Ms Saunders warns backyard drape can be cruel to bats.
“The flying foxes smell the fruit, they can’t see the netting and they just get hopelessly entangled and it’s a very cruel way to die,” says Ms Saunders.”