Bats getting a bad rap

THE Moruya Heads property of WIRES volunteer Cherie Collins has its own bat cave, which houses 18 young grey-headed flying foxes that were struck down by the heat on January 18.

One thousand flying foxes died as a result of the extreme heat in the Batemans Bay Water Gardens, but Cherie and fellow volunteer Vanessa Place managed to rescue many young victims.

“We were there for about six hours collecting bats,” she said.

“There were only two of us vaccinated, so it was a pretty hectic rescue. Luckily we had the help of five other WIRES volunteers getting cages and boxes ready for transporting the bats to our homes or we would not have been able to rescue the numbers we did. It was overwhelming as we had never been faced with a situation like this before. However our ability and training were put to good use.”

WIRES volunteers who handle flying foxes are vaccinated against Australian bat lyssavirus.

In total Cherie and Vanessa collected about 113 young bats. To share the load, many of the bats were transferred to other WIRES organisations in Sydney.

Vanessa has 35 of the animals at her property west of Moruya, and Cherie has 18 at her place. All of these are in enclosed aviaries.

Of the 113 rescued, only five have died.

“The same thing happened in Nowra, Bega and colonies round Sydney, and the wildlife volunteers there have been overrun,” Cherie said.

Cherie feeds the bats with the water and fruit they need, the latter from Southlands fruit market in Moruya.

“They will remain here until such time as they can fly when their strength returns, then they will be returned to their natural environment,” Cherie said.

“They are very responsive to help by vaccinated carers.

“I joined WIRES, was trained and have been volunteering for 18 years. During this time I have rehabilitated many different species of animals, however flying foxes are my passion.”

She believes the flying critters get a bad rap.

“A lot of people don’t know that they distribute more pollen and seed than any other animal,” she said.

“Much of the flora in our National Parks would not exist if it wasn’t for bats distributing this pollen and seed.”

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