Orchardists coping with the drought and hail damage to their cherry and apple crops have been dealt a new blow with the return of flying foxes to Orange.
The bats have been spotted in trees on Ploughmans Lane, and have been flying to orchards at night to raid the farms for fruit.
Grower Guy Gaeta said it would be tough for farmers who did not have their crops protected by netting.
“They are going up the Pinnacle Road where there are still cherries on the trees. There’s quite a lot of them,” he said.
They’re not dumb, they’ll remember and come back next year.Guy Gaeta, orchardist
“There’s been cherries still on the trees that haven’t been picked because of the hail.”
Mr Gaeta said that while the bats would also be taking damaged fruit that was left on trees because it was not viable to be picked, they posed an ongoing threat.
“They’ve got memories, and most of them, they are going to come back to your place. They’re not dumb, they’ll remember and come back next year,” he said.
The bats have not been sighted in Cook Park so far this summer – a hangout for them for the past few years.
Hundreds of bats roosting in the park forced Australia Day ceremony organisers to shift activities to the other end of the park last year to avoid them.
The bats have arrived in Orange later this year than in past years, however bat expert with WIRES, Storm Stanford, said it was unclear why that occurred.
A hail storm just before Christmas caused about $4 million damage to Orange district crops, and the area has been declared an agricultural natural disaster by the state government.
An information meeting about government assistance for farmers will be at the Canobolas Hall from 6pm on Thursday.
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