THEY'RE as cute as a button and one of Queensland's iconic native animals but these little mammals have councils in a flap over how to deal with their destructive roosting habits.

The state's local governments spend more than $1.2 million a year relocating colonies of little red flying foxes from populated areas.

Natural disasters and climate change have had a major impact on migratory behaviours and breeding seasons for the species of megabat that weighs no more than 600 grams.

As well as destroying over-burdened natural habitats, the bats cause a range of health, economic and amenity problems for the communities where they roost.

The problem is so bad that two Central Queensland councils are calling on the Queensland Government to reassess the state's flying fox management plan and to dig deep into state coffers to ease the burden on ratepayers.

A proposal from Central Highlands and Gladstone regional councils is expected to be endorsed by the Local Government Association of Queensland at its annual conference this month.

If there is widespread support for the councils' idea the LGAQ will then advocate for all local governments at the state and federal level.

The councils want a statewide plan that allows local governments to create areas "of suitable habitat located away from urban areas" with a "reliable water source and native trees" to ensure health risks in densely populated areas are "minimised if not mitigated".

"The main impacts of a flying fox roost on a community are the obvious smell and droppings, as well as the increased risk to people's health if they are scratched or bitten," Gladstone Regional Councillor Glenn Churchill told NewsRegional.

"When large numbers of flying foxes are present near where families assemble, there is also a general inconvenience factor," Cr Churchill said.

"In Miriam Vale the flying foxes near Alf Larson Park and Lions Park not only affected the appeal and aesthetics of the town's centre but also had a negative impact on local business and visitor numbers."

Cr Churchill said it was possible for humans to co-exist with flying foxes but "there is a need for flying foxes and humans to be separated as much as possible".

Central Highlands Regional Council said there needed to be a "more collaborative approach" to sharing the costs associated with flying fox dispersal programs.

"Management of flying fox colonies comes at a significant cost to local government and is of great concern to local residents who complain of noise, odours, health and economic impacts," CHRC said in the LGAQ conference agenda.

The LGAQ said it supported the motion.

"Local governments are spending considerable amounts of money to manage flying foxes within their local areas," it outlined in the agenda.

"Increasingly, the results of active dispersals are shown to be ineffective or varied and often result in the splintering of roosts into equally inappropriate areas."

NewsRegional asked the Queensland Government to comment specifically on this issue and others to be raised at the LGAQ conference, but it refused to do so.

Instead, a government spokeswoman said: "The Palaszczuk Government has an excellent working relationship with local councils throughout Queensland and their representative body, the LGAQ."

"For instance, we worked with LGAQ to reinstate the Financial Aid program to benefit indigenous councils," she said.

"I know our ministers meet regularly with the LGAQ and local councils.

"In regards to the motions being put forward at the LGAQ conference in October, we will look at each of the motions passed and work with the councils and community to see great outcomes for all Queenslanders regardless of their location.

"The Government does not want to pre-empt the LGAQ conference and the views of delegates on the motions."

 

Giant rat's tail grass.
Giant rat's tail grass. Daniel Burdon

Government should give a rat's grass about weed

IT'S the problem Gladstone council wants the Queensland Government to give a rat's grass about.

The council says ratepayers should not have to pay for eradicating giant rat's tail grass, and other noxious weeds, that might spread from government-controlled research areas.

The council will table the idea at the Local Government Association of Queensland conference this month.

"Noxious weeds, particularly giant rat's tail grass, ... is a huge concern as it can reduce pasture productivity, take over pasture grasses, cause significant degradation to the natural environment and affect the health of cattle," the council says in the LGAQ conference agenda.

"It is a significant impost on councils to manage and reduce the spread of noxious weeds."

Cr Glenn Churchill said local research or study sites were "attempting to find a control for GRT" and were not known to be spreading the grass. 

"Whilst some may believe the state caused the GRT problem back in the 1960s, this is not confirmed and it is counter-productive to make such a claim with a number of current efforts in progress trying to identify a suitable control method," he said. 

"This includes the State Government working with landholders and local governments for a solution, which if achieved, will benefit all landholders.

"An increased subsidy or fully funded control method would be beneficial."

There is no biological control for giant rat's tail grass.

Biosecurity Queensland has been trying to find a way to eradicate it for years to no avail.

The Queensland Government would not address the concerns raised by the council on this issue. - NewsRegional

 

The Local Government Association of Queensland Conference is an opportunity for our local council to inspire state-wide change on issues important to our community.
The Local Government Association of Queensland Conference is an opportunity for our local council to inspire state-wide change on issues important to our community. Tony Martin

LGAQ CONCEPTS THAT WILL DIRECTLY IMPACT US

Gladstone Council wants State Government to be accountable for all costs associated with management, control and eradication of noxious weeds that discharge from State Government research/trial plots.

The LGAQ Policy Executive, Central Highlands council and Gladstone council want the State Government to provide statewide management recognising that flying foxes travel large distances across multiple local government boundaries; and funding to support the management of flying fox colonies and dispersal activities.

News Corp Australia

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