They're back, they're early, and they're here in large numbers.
"They" are Mount Isa's large population of flying foxes currently weighing down the trees in and around Sunset Lawn Cemetery.
Flying-foxes, or fruit bats, are the largest flying mammals in the world, and are long-range seed dispersers and pollinators for a large number of native trees.
Because their habitat is threatened in built up areas, they are a protected species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.
However the noise, the smell and the droppings can be a problem for people that live nearby.
The Mount Isa cemetery has long been a favourite annual roost and Council has been working with the state government and CSIRO into strategies to manage the problem.
A trial of sprinklers in 2018 failed and this year Mount Isa City Council has closed the main entrance to the cemetery to avoid disturbing the roosts and visitors must take a side entrance from Commercial Rd.
Council's development and health coordinator Priviledge Mapiye said the flying foxes arrived two months earlier than usual.
"They normally come in October," Mr Mapiye said.
"Not only that, their numbers have quadrupled, we are looking at 15,000 this time and they are all there in the cemetery."
Mr Mapiye said Council had very limited options on what actions they could take.
"When in the past we've tried so many strategies to move them on, but we find out we simply move them from one location to another," he said.
"We don't want them in suburbs and we want them there because these animals are noisy, they also have a stench, and their droppings everywhere disturb the quality of life for people."
Mr Mapiye said they were trying to manage the problem on site without moving them on, though their options were limited.
"We are not allowed to disturb their roost or do anything to the trees where they are roosting," he said.
"We are managing them on site using the code of practice for low impact activities, so we can trim the trees and remove the branches."
Mr Mapiye said their efforts now were around health and safety of the community.
"The risk of contracting any disease is very low unless you get scratched," he said.
"We are also managing the risk by restricting access to the animals and have cordoned off the main entrance."
In the short term they will move on away from the city after they have exhausted the food sources.
Longer term, authorities are tagging the animals to understand their movement patterns to see if they can influence them away from cities.
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