UNDER THREAT: If you come across an injured flying fox, phone WIRES immediately.
UNDER THREAT: If you come across an injured flying fox, phone WIRES immediately. Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate

Call in the experts when dealing with flying foxes

FLYING foxes need your help on the Coffs Coast.

This is particularly the case of the vulnerable listed grey-headed flying fox, Australia's largest native bat.

A food shortage has troubled the grey-headed flying fox population along coastal NSW to Victoria.

Due to a lack of flowering native trees and plants, Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation WIRES has experienced large numbers of bats hunting for food in gardens and getting trapped in fruit tree netting.

The public are urged to contact WIRES if they find a bat in distress.

According to NSW Health regulations, if a member of the public is scratched or bitten by a bat, the animal must be tested for the potentially deadly Australian Bat Lyssavirus.

This test requires the flying fox to be euthanised.

WIRES flying fox coordinator Storm Stanford said people trying to help the bats often did more damage than good.

"You can keep yourself safe and save their lives if you simply don't touch and just call WIRES as soon as possible,” she said.

WIRES have also received reports of cruelty cases against flying foxes.

"I have seen flying foxes beaten with sticks and injured and recently rushed to the aid of a flying fox that had been tossed out like rubbish in a plastic bag , somehow managing to survive the incident and still alive when I arrived,” Ms Stanford said.

WIRES urged anyone who witnessed any act of animal cruelty to report it immediately to the RSPCA for investigation. Australian native species are protected by law.

If you see an abandoned, sick or injured flying fox phone WIRES on 1300 094 737 or its flying fox only hotline 0405 724 635.



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