Illawarra WIRES has made a desperate plea for home owners to secure the netting on their fruit trees, in an attempt to protect the region’s flying fox population.
Volunteers have been inundated with calls to rescue flying foxes that have become caught in loose netting, rendering them unable to fly.
WIRES flying fox co-ordinator Sandra Leonard has given over much of her Minnamurra backyard to the injured animals in recent months, taking in nearly 60 rescued flying foxes since November.
She said many of the animals had been freed from netting thrown haphazardly over fruit trees, trapping the bats inside the fabric and cutting off their circulation.
‘‘It’s a real worry,’’ she said.
‘‘They suffer such horrible injuries when they get trapped and we often get there too late to do anything.’’
Ms Leonard said 10 flying foxes had died from their injuries, suffering broken limbs and circulation loss, while others had been rescued carrying babies or lactating, needing months of TLC to recover.
‘‘Quite often when they get caught, it takes the skin off their wings and arms, it’s awful,’’ she said.
‘‘They have the circulation cut off for so long that the membrane in their wings breaks down, sometimes they just don’t recover.’’
WIRES has urged residents, particularly those in Blackbutt and Figtree where flying foxes have large camps, to tightly secure the netting over their fruit trees or invest in other items to protect their fruit.
‘‘Shade cloths are good or mesh bags; we also recommend building a cage, it will last for years and is much better than just throwing netting on,’’ Ms Leonard said.
The organisation has also encouraged people to contact WIRES if they spot an injured flying fox.