AT RISK: Grey-headed flying fox pups.
AT RISK: Grey-headed flying fox pups. Contributed

Flying fox populations 'decimated' by starvation

AS FLYING foxes continue to die across the Fraser Coast, the region could be witnessing the decimation of the species.

That is the opinion of Natalie Richardson from Wildlife Rescue Fraser Coast, who said thousands of the animals were dying from Coffs Harbour all the way to Gladstone.

"As I've said, what we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg, there are so many that wouldn't be seen and reported," Ms Richardson said.

Grey-headed flying foxes - a species already listed as vulnerable - had been the worst affected, Ms Richardson said.

The food shortage behind the animals' deaths, caused by bushfires, dry weather and habitat loss, could be the first step towards extinction for the bats, she said.

Ms Richardson said the animals were vital to the ecosystem as they were natural pollinators and seed dispersers, crucial to the survival and regeneration of native forests.

With this year's juvenile population the worst affected, Ms Richardson said it would be hard for the species to recover.

"A lot of mature females don't seem to be pregnant," she said.

"If they are, it's quite possible that they will miscarry - they don't have the food and nutrition themselves to sustain a pregnancy and their body can't keep carrying it."

Ms Richardson said while bats weren't always the most popular species, their survival was vital for the environment.

"Whether you like them or not, they have an integral role in the ecosystem," she said.