BEWARE: Wires Northern Rivers warns residents areas of the Northern Rivers are experiencing a severe flying-fox starvation and dehydration event.
BEWARE: Wires Northern Rivers warns residents areas of the Northern Rivers are experiencing a severe flying-fox starvation and dehydration event. Andrya Hart

Wires 'stretched to the limit' by flying fox calls

LIVESTOCK are not the only ones feeling the stress of the prolonged dry spell, with flying fox populations suffering mass kills during the drought.

Wires Northern Rivers said large areas of the North Coast, as well as areas of South East Queensland, are experiencing what appears to be a severe flying fox starvation and dehydration event.

Wires said it is believed the unusually dry conditions have affected flowering and fruiting of the flying foxes' usual feed trees.

Moisture content on foliage is currently very low, fruit and flowers also lack the normal amount of moisture and this is where bats get their nutrition and hydration.

Wires said there are many reports of bats being found alone in trees in the daytime not having the energy to return to roost in their colony.

A Northern Rivers Wires spokeswoman said the group is receiving more than five times their normal number of flying-fox calls for this time of the year.

"Wires, like all wildlife groups in the area, are stretched to the limit," she said.

With a limited number of volunteer vaccinated bat rescuers, Wires is asking the public to be understanding in this situation.

"Flying-foxes are very intelligent creatures and play an important role in Australian environments," she said.

"Sadly, this starvation event appears to be yet another indication of the catastrophic affect of a changing climate on our ecosystems."

Wires said there are a number of things you can do if you find a flying fox in distress:

  • Most importantly, do not attempt to handle the flying-fox.
  • Observe the flying fox and check if it is actually still alive.
  • Many bats are hanging dead in trees - some are dead on the ground. If it is dead, simply scoop it up in a towel or newspaper and dispose of it
  • If it is alive, do not disturb the flying fox or attempt to shoo it away. This will just stress it further and make it weaker. It needs to rest and regain strength so it can return to the colony.
  • Keep people and pets such as dogs and cats away so they don't stress the already compromised animal.
  • If the bat looks sick or injured, or is low down in a particularly public space, phone Wires Northern Rivers on 6628 1898. They will help assess the situation and determine whether it needs to be brought into care.
  • If the bat appears uninjured and is moving around, wait until the following day and see if the animal flies off overnight.

If the bat is still there the following day, phone Wires Northern Rivers on 6628 1898 for advice.

If you do want to assist further you can try putting some fruit such as apple or pear in nearby trees, making sure not to go close to the bat. This may in some instances give it the extra nutrition and moisture it needs to survive.