SEQ bats in trouble

Despite being labelled as 'pests' conservationists say our flying foxes are starving to death.

Calls to Brisbane and Gold Coast bat rescue groups had quadrupled over the past three weeks.

Louise Saunders from Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld says the animals are facing a food shortage throughout south-east Queensland.

Species affected include grey headed flying foxes (which are nationally threatened), black, and little red flying foxes.

Louise says flowering eucalypts and paperbarks are not producing enough food at the moment.

"The nectar producing plants are just not doing it at the moment and these are young flying foxes born in October last year, they just don't know where to go for alternate food," she says.

"There are a lot of little juveniles out there suffering quite badly at the moment from this downturn in available food.

"And they only have one baby a year and there are a lot of things that can happen to them, there's a large death toll in flying foxes."
Pest myths

"A lot of people say that flying foxes are in population explosion but is very untrue," Louise says.

"As rescue services we see a different side... they really are suffering quite badly."

Louise says one of the reasons for this misunderstanding is that bat numbers are deceptive due to their large colonies and habitats close to residential and commercial areas.

"They like the same things that we like and we humans are encroaching on land and places where flying foxes would have been roosting for hundreds of years. And because they live in colonies people think that there are masses of them."

Louise also says the animals are not disease-ridden as many believe.

"They are not full of disease like some people want to tell us, they are actually very clean animals - we just don't want people to touch them, like any wild animal they can be bite."

What you can do

If you find a bat in trouble Louise urges everyone to show compassion by calling a wildlife rescue team.

And if a flying fox is found alone during the day, this is a sign they are in serious trouble.

"They will do anything to get back to their colonies because that's where they feel safe, so if you see a flying fox at all during the day there is an issue.

"But for the sake of your own safety and the wellbeing of the flying-fox, it is vital that you do not attempt your own rescue or touch the flying-fox."

Instead, she says to call a professional who has been vaccinated and trained.

"We want people to call the rescue services and report them before they die," Louise says.

"There is an animal welfare issue, they are a mammal, and they have the same feelings of pain as we do so it's very important that any bat found alone during the day must be reported.

"And they are really lovely animals. And they're very important for our environment through seed dispersal and pollination, they play a very important role, we will see changes in our vegetation structure as they decline."

Rescue services to call:
Qld wide: RSPCA - 1300ANIMAL (1300 264625)
Greater Brisbane: Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld Inc. - 0488 228 134
Gold Coast: Bats Qld - 0447 222 889

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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: SEQ bats in trouble
SEQ bats in trouble
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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