Appeal to help protect endangered Grey-headed Flying-foxes

Thursday, 1 February 2024

There has been a concerning increase in the number of Grey-headed Flying-foxes in Eastern Park requiring care this season, with around 200 succumbing to malnutrition and falling from their roost trees.

The rise in malnutrition has been attributed to a critical food shortage in the region.

Climate impacts, including an increase in rain events, are believed to have led to a scarcity of native flowering trees like Eucalypts, a key food source for the endangered Grey-headed Flying-foxes, which has driven them to frequent residential orchards.

Consequently, more flying-foxes have been caught in illegal fruit tree netting, causing serious injuries that often require months of rehabilitation or, in some instances, euthanasia.

Fruit tree netting with large holes was banned in Victoria in 2021.

However, wildlife volunteers report that many homeowners are unaware of the ban and illegal netting remains common in residential gardens.

Fine mesh netting, such as fruit fly netting, remains legal and poses less risk to wildlife.

Within Eastern Park - the second-largest colony in Victoria - weak and malnourished pups are easily disturbed, falling to the ground and becoming prey to a wide range of predators.

Trained wildlife volunteers have been monitoring the colony and have rescued many sick and injured bats.

Greater Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan

The Eastern Park flying-fox colony plays a vital role in our local ecology as pollinators of native Australian trees.

As a community we should respect the safety of the colony by not disturbing them.

We thank local volunteers for rescuing sick flying-foxes and for their ongoing conservation efforts.
To mitigate disturbances, the City has temporarily implemented a mowing exclusion zone under the colony, with signage instructing visitors to remain quiet and keep their distance.

Councillor Eddy Kontelj, Chair of the Active Spaces portfolio

The City is working to increase the area of suitable habitat and is taking innovative steps to help reduce threats to the survival of the Grey-headed Flying-foxes.

Local wildlife shelter operator and veterinary nurse Leila Merritt is in care of 40 orphaned pups and several adult flying-foxes rescued from illegal fruit netting entanglements.

Local wildlife shelter operator and veterinary nurse Leila Merritt

This time of year, we see dozens of adult flying-foxes caught in illegal fruit netting.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes are an endangered keystone species that help regenerate our ecosystems.

The community can help our flying-foxes by planting native flowering trees, using wildlife friendly fruit netting and sharing their fruit with our wildlife that desperately need it.

If a flying-fox is found, individuals are urged not to attempt rescue but to contact Wildlife Victoria at 03 8400 7300 who will send a vaccinated, trained wildlife rescuer to assist.

Information on fruit tree netting regulations can be found on the DEECA website.

Page last updated: Thursday, 1 February 2024