WIRES Central West is calling on residents to use wildlife-friendly fruit tree netting after 14 threatened grey-headed flying foxes were rescued recently.
Each year, WIRES Central West receives many calls to rescue flying foxes – mostly when they become snared on barbed wire fences.
“This year has seen an increase in calls for animals trapped in fruit tree netting also,” WIRES volunteer Louise Krieger said.
The most recent call for help was from a family in Bathurst who had netted their trees before going away for three days.
On return, they discovered 14 grey-headed flying foxes caught in the netting.
Vaccinated WIRES rescuers attended and found one of the flying foxes already dead, having suffered injuries from a predator attack while he was unable to defend himself.
Other bats were ensnared in the netting and others were loose inside it.
“All of the flying foxes, even those that were not caught, needed to be taken in for care, as it was possible these animals had been snared and managed to free themselves, but injuries sustained this way can take up to two weeks to develop and are often life threatening,” Ms Krieger said.
“This was a particularly difficult rescue as there were gaps and holes in the netting and we had to try to stop the flying foxes that were free from escaping in a panicked state.
“Despite our best efforts, three managed to find their way out before they could be captured, but the remaining 10 were successfully taken into care and vet checked.”
While many of the injuries sustained were severe, there were no further fatalities.WIRES Central West volunteer Louise Krieger
While many of the injuries sustained were severe, there were no further fatalities.
All of the animals required treatment with many malnourished as a result of a state-wide food shortage this year.
They are now recovering in a specialised facility for injured and orphaned flying foxes and are on track for future release.
WIRES Central West volunteers have now called on the community to help protect wildlife by using wildlife-friendly netting, which has a mesh size of less than five millimetres.
“You should not be able to poke your finger through netting. If you can, animals can become ensnared,” Ms Krieger said.
“Many animals also become trapped in netting that has been discarded carelessly.
“Birds, lizards, snakes and possums can all become ensnared and statistics show that most animals die with horrific injuries or require long term care, if found in time.”
Flying foxes should only be handled by people who are trained and vaccinated.
To report a native animal emergency call WIRES on 1300 094 737.
- For more information on responsible netting click on the fact sheet. Do not to handle flying foxes or micro bats yourself.