Where would you go if you had wings?
  • Tuesday 30 June 2015
Flying fox fitted with a satellite tracker

Council has been eagerly following the flight paths of 10 Flying foxes, since they were fitted with satellite trackers in April 2015, to see if there is any consistency to their movements.

And there isn’t. Since the trackers were deployed, we’ve had Flying foxes visit Fraser Island, Gladstone, and Moreton, with four staying in Coolum.

One chooses to roost and feed in the same place every day, while another has been jet-setting around the Coast, roosting and feeding with no apparent pattern.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said this pioneering research, funded by the Environment Levy, would inform and improve Flying fox management in the region.

“We have two main aims with our Flying fox research: to reduce conflict in urban areas and to protect a native species that is vitally important to our environment,” Cr McKay said.

“Understanding the movement of the species is crucial to allowing us to proactively manage them into the future.

“We’re only at the beginning of our research journey, but already we’re gathering solid baseline data that is helping confirm and disprove our assumptions.

“For example, we’ve long suspected Flying foxes treat each roost like a hotel and while a roost may be full, it might not be full of the same bats each night. This is clearly demonstrated in the tracking data.

“Officers are and will continue to ground-truth the data to confirm what we are seeing is accurate, before cross checking it to look for patterns and variants.

“From here we’ll be in a much better position to implement and adapt our Flying fox management.”

There may be up to three species of Flying fox visiting more than 20 Sunshine Coast camps, which are evenly distributed throughout the region. The camps fluctuate in occupancy throughout the year.

In April 2015, Council became the first local government in Queensland to deploy satellite tracking technology to monitor these local populations.

Council will monitor the animals over the next nine months, using live mapping data provided by the trackers to answer questions such as how far do they travel, is there a relationship between roosts, where do they feed and do management activities work.

Anyone wishing to track the project can do so at www.movebank.org where results are updated daily or on Council’s website.

The project

  • In April 2015, 10 Black Flying foxes were captured from a relatively new roost at Coolum Beach, which formed following another camp’s dispersal nearby.
  • With full ethics approval and in partnership with CSIRO, the trackers were fitted while the Flying foxes were under anaesthetic. CSIRO scientists took blood samples, measurements and other vital information about the animal’s biology.
  • Trackers are switched on for 10 hours every two days. They weigh in at just 9.5g, making up less than 5% of the animal’s body weight. Solar panels are positioned to allow charging while the Flying foxes hang upside down.