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Food shortage causes dramatic rise in abandoned flying fox pups

Friday, November 18, 2016

WIRES has reported a dramatic increase in underweight and abandoned flying fox pups with over 130 rescues in recent days.

According to WIRES flying fox rehabilitator Storm Stanford, the pups are being abandoned due to a shortage of natural food along the NSW coast, a combination of fewer flowering eucalypts and fruiting trees this season and the ongoing deforestation around coastal areas of NSW.


WIRES is also receiving a greater number of rescue calls for flying foxes caught in tree netting and orchards as their natural food sources are depleted.

“NSW’s eucalypts blossom irregularly and at varying times of year. When these food shortages occur, it’s the young that are first to suffer,” said Ms Stanford.

“Flying fox females are excellent mothers but without enough food they stop lactating and are unable to raise their young. As the pups are too young to fend for themselves they starve to death.”

Ms Stanford said WIRES usually only rescue just a couple of pups a week at this time of year. Most of the 130 pups already rescued are approximately 4 - 6 weeks old and would normally remain with their mothers until at least 6 months of age.

“Our trained and licensed WIRES volunteers have been entering certain camp perimeters to assist whatever animals they can,“ said Ms Stanford. “However we strongly advise members of the public to avoid handling any flying foxes and to call WIRES immediately. If you get bitten or scratched it is important that you seek medical help.”

According to Ms Stanford, calls for assistance for flying fox rescues are coming in from as far as Bathurst, Wagga, Junee, Dubbo and Armidale along with the regular areas of Nowra, the Hunter Valley, the Mid North Coast and some parts of Sydney.

“The fact that flying foxes are being seen and rescued in Western NSW is an indicator of serious food shortage as they are coastal dwellers and these areas are only part of their range when food sources on the coast have failed.”

Should you see an abandoned, sick or injured flying fox do not attempt to catch or handle it but call WIRES Rescue line immediately on 1300 094 737 or the WIRES Flying Fox only Emergency hotline 0405 724 635

To organise an interview with WIRES Flying fox coordinators Storm Stanford or Jenny Beatson please call Carla Toyne on 02 8977 3327 or 0416272153 or email Carla@wires.org.au