More than 300 flying foxes have been killed after the Central West tree they were roosting in collapsed in high winds earlier this month.
The roosting tree housing grey-headed flying foxes collapsed at Cowra Golf Course on Sunday, August 19.
The Bureau of Meteorology reported wind gusts of up to 80km/h on the day.
Following the collapse of the tree a rescue effort was brought together between the State Emergency Service and animal rescue groups WIRES, Wildcare Queanbeyan and Wildlife Rescue South Coast (WRSC) to save as many of the flying foxes as possible.
Cowra Central Vet Centre set up a triage centre on site to evaluate which animals could be saved.
In the final count 69 of the flying foxes, mostly pregnant females, were able to be rescued and are now in care with WIRES and WRSC members.
Cowra Council and Woolworths provided food and refreshments for the rescue teams as they worked into the night in sub zero temperatures.
WIRES volunteer Racheal Walker said she was deeply moved by the number of people and businesses that provided their support.
“We were overwhelmed with offers of help,” she said.
Ms Walker said the Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station donated use of their cool room to enable her to collect the deceased animals and transport them for research purposes.
The animals reside in Cook Park during the warmer months, where they can create an unpleasant stench with droppings and urine.
They also damage fruit crops with their regular ventures to the region’s orchards.
The State government allows limited killing of flying foxes to counter crop damage, but regulations have been tightened in recent years.
For urban dwellers wanting to shift permanent camps of flying foxes, lethal options have long been off the table, with the responsibility falling to local councils.
Speaking to the Central Western Daily, NSW WIRES bat co-ordinator Storm Stanford said health fears and potential damage to trees were often the public’s main concerns about bats.
She said while all types of bats can carry life-threatening diseases, such as Australian Bat Lyssavirus, infections were extremely rare.
According to the Office of Environment and Heritage NSW, “flying-foxes help pollinate plants and spread seeds, ensuring the survival of our native forests and they do this over much larger distances than birds or insects”.
They were listed as vulnerable by the NSW government through the Threatened Species Conservation Act in 2001.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up here