Four Flying Foxes (Pteropus) have been admitted to Torquay Wildlife Shelter over the last few months suffering from serious wounds due to fruit netting entanglements.
Torquay Wildlife Shelter Carer Robyn Rule said the netting constricts their arteries and puts holes in their wings, leaving devastating wounds.
“People should research what fruit netting they should use to prevent entanglements,” she said.
Wildlife Victoria Chief Executive Officer Karen Masson said she urges people to use a different material to cover their fruit trees as entanglement can occur quite easily.
“If you can fit a finger through the netting, an animal will be able to get stuck.
“I recommend you to use a fruit sock, which is just putting netting around the fruit rather than the whole tree or to use shade cloth which is dense and animals can’t get through it,” she said.
If you find an entangled flying fox or other species of bat entangled you are urged to avoid touching or handling the animal and to contact Wildlife Victoria or your nearest wildlife shelter immediately.
“Do not approach or handle a flying fox or species of bat as they can be potentially carrying the life threatening Australian Bat Lyssavirus.
“We urge people to contact their nearest wildlife shelter or call Wildlife Victoria’s Emergency phone service on 1300 094 535, so we can send out a vaccinated rescuer trained to capture and care for the injured bat.”
“There is currently not enough research to say the flying fox or bat doesn’t have the virus, so you must take precautions to ensure your safety by calling for help,” Ms Masson said.
According to Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) website, all Victorian native wildlife, including microbats and flying-foxes, are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975.
Surf Coast residents can contact Robyn Rule at Torquay Wildlife Shelter on 0402 237 600 if they come across an entangled flying fox or other wildlife.
What can I do to prevent entanglements?
To find out how you can protect your fruit trees and what is appropriate netting to prevent entanglements read DSE’s ‘Protecting backyard fruit trees’ fact sheet.
What is inexpensive netting I can use to protect my fruit trees?
Thirty per cent blockout shadecloth can be thrown over the tree whilst it is fruiting. The shadecloth will not stop the fruit from ripening, minimises the risk of wildlife becoming entangled and can be stored away when the fruit is finished.
What is the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL)?
You can find out more about the Lyssavirus and how to reduce the risk on DSE’s website.
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