Monday, November 19, 2012

Dispelling common fallacies about flying foxes

A juvenile flying fox sprayed with spray paint, which later died of paint inhalation

Over the last few weeks RSPCA NSW has received several reports of cruelty involving flying foxes. Unbeknownst to most, flying foxes are native to mainland Australia and not pests. They are fruit-eating flying mammals, similar to bats, which live in large colonies or camps, often in close proximity to people. Flying foxes are also classified as a vulnerable species.

Flying foxes will commonly injure themselves on high-voltage power lines, sometimes with young attached. After falling to the ground, the young can will continue to cling to its mother, often for days, until discovered by predators, humans or rescued.

Recently reports made to RSPCA NSW detail incidences of cruelty to young flying foxes by people discovering them after injuries with overhead power lines. These incidences were reported in Strathfield and Granville. In one incident, shown above, a juvenile flying fox was sprayed with spray paint and died as a result of paint inhalation.

“Many people are not aware that flying foxes are native to Australia, in fact the Grey Headed Flying-fox is listed as 'vulnerable' under the threatened Species Conservation Act,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David OShannessy. “The RSPCA does not condone cruelty to any animals, including flying fox and bats. Residents that are impacted by flying foxes are encouraged to refer to the Environment and Heritage website for advice and guidelines regarding the netting of garden fruit trees. Inappropriate netting practices can lead to animals such as flying-foxes and birds becoming entangled, injured or killed,” OShannessy concluded.

If you come across a sick or injured flying fox or any bat, it is essential that you DO NOT HANDLE THE ANIMAL. Report it by contacting WIRES on 1300 094 737 or Sydney Wildlife on 02 9413 4300.

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