Flying Foxes in Cussen Park Tatura

Greater Shepparton City Council has closed the top half of the northern loop track at Cussen Park in Tatura due to the presence of flying foxes. The flying fox population at Cussen Park Tatura is currently estimated at around 10,000.

This was required to prevent disturbance of the camp, potentially causing them to move to less desirable locations in town. It also minimizes the chance of people and pets coming into direct contact with the flying foxes which carries a health risk. The closure zone will be adjusted, as required, in line with camp expansion or movement.

Flying foxes are an important part of the Australian environment and are all protected by law. The grey-headed flying fox is listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

Physical harm and attempts to relocate them are therefore not permitted without approval from relevant Government Departments.

Flying foxes are under enormous pressure and there has been a significant decline in numbers as a result of loss of their prime feeding habitat and disruptions to their camp sites. We are privileged to have them in our midst and we need to protect them whilst they are here.

They feed on fruit and blossoms from a wide range of native trees, introduced species and cultivated fruits. They provide essential pollination and seed dispersal services for our native plants and forest ecosystems. At present the population at the camp in Cussen Park consists mainly of grey headed flying foxes, however there are a number of red headed flying foxes in the camp as well. The flying foxes roost during the day and head away from the camp to feed at night. It is possible that residents of Tatura and surrounding areas may hear the flying foxes at night feeding in trees that are in blossom at present.

During this time of year, the flying fox mothers are finishing up nursing their young, which they birthed in spring. Many of these young still stay behind in the camp at night while their mothers go out foraging. When old enough they will go out foraging by themselves.

Residents are asked to observe the path closure signs and refrain from disturbing the flying foxes whilst they are roosting at their present site. It is anticipated that colder weather and diminishing food supplies will see the flying foxes move to warmer regions over the next couple of months.

Greater Shepparton City Council advises residents that they should not handle flying foxes as some diseases they carry, such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, are transmissible to humans. The virus is only transmitted through being scratched or bitten by a flying fox and can be fatal. Although it is known that many flying foxes across Australia carry the virus, instances of transmission to humans are very rare. If bitten or scratched please wash thoroughly and seek immediate medical treatment.

 

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