Cold snap kills bats
WIRES volunteers were scrambling to save baby bats yesterday, after this week's cold snap claimed hundreds of young victims.
"The cold on Thursday night came at a time when young bats had been left by their mothers while they went to forage," WIRES coordinator Judi Wood said.
"They're old enough to cope with being left alone when it's warm, but they're too small for such cold.
"They've been falling out of trees and we're finding them on the ground, both dead or debilitated."
For the volunteers, searching the grounds of Bellingen Island yesterday for young grey-headed flying foxes, was emotionally draining.
"You'd be standing there and one would fall off a tree in front of you," carer Lynn Gow said while feeding one of the babies.
A few hundred were already dead, but about 30 or 40 were still fighting for their lives and taken to carer Sally Neal's home, put on heat pads, fed, and given antibiotics to combat pneumonia.
"We're just stabilising them and getting them warm, then we'll do a thorough check for injuries, then they'll be dispersed among us," volunteer Stephen Cross said.
The irony was that WIRES volunteers were bracing for the heat, because as devastating as this will be for a species already at risk of extinction, heat stress is catastrophic for both young and mature bats.
For these lucky babies though, it will be a long road before they are released and left to their own devices. They will spend the next 12 weeks at carers' homes before going into a creche aviary for eight weeks, then released with access to food until ready to fend for themselves.
"We'll be feeding them until May," Judi said.
If you find an injured native animal or can help with donations of towels or hankies to keep the babies warm, call WIRES on 0500 559 559 in Coffs Harbour, or 6649 1008 in Woolgoolga.