Flying foxes set up camp in South East

A new colony of native grey-headed flying foxes has settled in a pine forest near Millicent.

Around 1500 animals were seen roosting in a plantation managed by OneFortyOne. While the site is due for thinning, OneFortyOne's Harvesting and Roading Manager, Ockert Le Roux said the company has delayed the operation.

"We've established a buffer around the colony to protect these native animals," Mr Le Roux said.

"We take our environmental obligations seriously, working hard to protect and enhance local biodiversity across our forests.

"We were more than happy to delay harvesting operations and continue to work with the team at Natural Resources South East, ensuring the best outcomes for these vulnerable bats."

Natural Resources South East LSE District Manager Ross Anderson said this is a great outcome for the animals, which are vulnerable to extinction.

"Until recently, we believed that grey-headed flying foxes only passed through the South East," Mr Anderson said.

"A colony established more permanently in Adelaide some years ago. This colony near Millicent is a new addition."

"Numbers of this species appear to be declining, however in the last 40 to 50 years grey-headed flying foxes have moved down the east coast of Australia to Melbourne and now as far across as Adelaide. This movement is thought to be due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, competition for food, and the effects of climate change across their natural range in the eastern states."

Grey-headed flying foxes are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Approval from the Department for Environment and Water is required to disturb or relocate a flying fox camp.

"It is important not to handle flying foxes, or any type of bat species, including injured or dead animals, as they can carry serious diseases," Mr Anderson said.

"Flying foxes pose no health risk to humans, unless you are bitten or scratched. In that instance, wash the site immediately with plenty of soap and water and seek immediate medical attention."

If you find an injured or dead flying fox, contact a wildlife rescue organisation or the RSPCA.

"This species plays an important role in helping to conserve native plants by dispersing seeds and pollen. Although this isn't their usual habitat, it's important that we are flexible to ensure the survival of grey-headed flying foxes," Mr Anderson concluded.

"OneFortyOne delaying their operations and recognising the importance of these native animals is a great example of how to work with wildlife for the benefit of the whole landscape."

For more information or to report a new flying fox colony contact Natural Resources South East 87351177.