Thousands of bats overwhelmed by heat wave

Hundreds of bats died due to heat exhaustion at Burpengary. Photo Contributed
Hundreds of bats died due to heat exhaustion at Burpengary. Photo Contributed Contributed

MOTHER Nature has shown she can sometimes be cruel after wiping out thousands of bats across the region.

As the heatwave hit on the weekend, extremely high temperatures proved to be too much for colonies as bats started to drop from the sky due to heat exhaustion.

Deaths included grey headed flying foxes, which are on the vulnerable to extinction species list, and black flying foxes. Flying foxes are Australia's only nocturnal, long-distance pollinator and seed disperser.

Volunteer rescuers have been overwhelmed with the mammoth task of collecting dead bodies and tending to survivors as part of their service to the community. There are more than 200 baby flying foxes in care.

"We have never seen this type of heat event devastation before and the massive amount of casualties as a result. From the initial call onwards, the camps fell like dominoes," Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland president Louise Saunders said.

A Moreton Bay Regional Council Spokesman said the council liaised with the Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) to coordinate the first phase of the response with specially trained bat carers to rescue flying foxes that had suffered heat stress and fallen from their roosts.

"The removal of deceased flying foxes by qualified bat carers began on Sunday and is expected to be completed in coming days, depending on weather conditions, with the help of contractors engaged by council," the spokesman said.

Burpengary resident Michelle Pietsch's property borders Burpengary Creek, an area which is home to hundreds of bats.

"We've got a massive colony located at the back of our property," she said.

Mrs Pietsch said she could hear baby bats screeching and when she went to investigate she found hundreds of dead bats scattered everywhere.

"It's distressing. Mother Nature has its way of culling back the numbers," she said. "I saw a mum trying to protect her babies and they were just falling out from underneath her. They all just died."

Ms Pietsch said she was informed Moreton Bay Regional Council workers would be organising to have the bats cleaned up by staff members who had been vaccinated.

She was concerned that none of the residents living adjacent to the bat colonies had been given the option to be vaccinated.

Division 12 Councillor Adrian Raedel urged residents not to go near the dead bats.

"People who are looking after the bats have to be vaccinated," he said.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recommends care be taken when disposing of dead flying foxes by using a shovel and wearing thick gloves to reduce the risk of scratches and the potential transmission of Australian Bat Lyssavirus.

If you find deceased or injured bats in your area, phone qualified bat carers on 0488 228 134 or visit www.bats.org.au.



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