An unusually large influx of flying foxes into Queens Park has created a need to temporarily shut the doors to Ipswich Nature Centre.
The centre will close from Friday (close of business) until further notice while more than 5000 flying foxes make the surrounding trees their home during migration.
The number of flying foxes during this year’s migration is unusually high due to floods in North Queensland and high temperatures in south eastern Australia.
Normally, there are about 100-200 Black and Grey Headed flying foxes which permanently roost in trees surrounding the nature centre.
The migrating visitors however, are little red flying foxes.
“Because there are so many of them, they are easily disturbed which means they can fly fairly close to visitors at the Nature Centre,” Works, Parks and Recreation chief operating officer Bryce Hines said.
“There’s also a fair amount of faeces being dropped into the Nature Centre which is being cleared daily by staff.”
Mr Hines said staff would remain working at the Nature Centre. Animals kept at the centre would also remain, however they would be moved and monitored to keep them safe.
Flying foxes are a protected species and the State Government manages a “Code of Practice” which helps when trying to move flying foxes to safer territory.
“The problem we have is that they’re in a high risk environment, so close to the public,” Mr Hines said.
“For that reason, we’ll be looking at ways we can move the flying foxes on in a way they aren’t harmed.
“One of the challenges is that many of them are carrying young or are currently pregnant, so we’ll have qualified flying fox specialists helping us on site. If they think the flying foxes are at risk of harm, all dispersal activity will stop.”
Strobe lights, music and water are usually enough to discourage flying foxes from staying in a particular area.
“If they were anywhere else, we’d leave them there, but they’re just too close to the urban population where they are. We don’t want to put people at risk,” Mr Hines said.
“There is a chance they could move to other high risk areas, such as nearby schools. If that happens, we’ll have to repeat the exercise in those areas. It can be quite a challenge.”