Opportunity to encourage flying foxes, says rescuer
The new flying fox colony at Umina gives locals an opportunity to develop a flying fox garden and to learn how to prevent injuries to native animals, according to Ms Clare Rickell, bat co-ordinator with the wildlife rescue service Wires.
"That would be flowering and fruiting native well established trees," Ms Rickell said.
"I wouldn't encourage people to grow none native fruit trees just for the Flying Foxes as this would encourage them to come down from the safety of their canopy and would also encourage them to be in closer contact with us humans which we also don't want," she said.
"Native animals of all kinds need to eat just native food because it's what they have evolved to eat, their stomachs can't take a diet of mostly introduced food.
"I would encourage people to grow native trees and hedges to help animals such as possums, small trees and bushes are great for small birds and mammals plus a joy to watch from a distance.
"You are very unlikely to meet a flying fox face to face as they are always in the trees.
"If someone finds one near the ground then it's very much in trouble and they need to call Wires or ARC for immediate rescue.
"Grey-headed flying foxes are a nectar, blossom and fruit eating bat.
"These are the ones we see mostly on the Central Coast with the occasional visitors of little reds and blacks.
"We need all of them to pollinate the flowers and distribute the seeds in all our forests.
"They can take these seeds over 80 kilometres away, thus giving our wild forests greater diversity.
"They do eat our fruit when times are tough, which has happened recently, but I think it's a very small price to pay for what they do for us.
"I don't know one person who doesn't love a lung full of fresh air and going for a bush walk through gorgeous gums and wonderful, dancing angophoras.
"Without our flying foxes, we couldn't do this.
"After all, they have been around for more than 35 million years, so they're really good at it and better than us.
"Netting is by far the most common rescue we bat rescuers do, the cheap netting from hardware stores and the like.
"It's usually just thrown over a tree and then left.
"The animal, be it bat, snake or possum gets wrapped up in it.
"It's made of unforgiving nylon, so they bite on it in desperation and so get horrific damage to bats wings, legs and mostly mouths.
"By starting with the right netting and placing it over the tree carefully, you minimise the risk of animals getting caught up.
"They can just bounce right off and not get tangled within the smaller holes.
"This means people would save money and time having to buy new netting and putting it back up each time we have to cut an animal out. It also saves the animals suffering.
"Barbed wire is horrific too, as you can imagine.
"They hit the top and then roll over and in their panic get themselves caught up more, they then bite to get it off and can break their upper palate and jaw.
"This can also be very dangerous for rescuers too for obvious reasons,
"Razor wire like on the top of Ettalong Lookout tower, is incredibly dangerous to animals and people.
"Each of these cases can either mean death or weeks or months in care to be able to be released back into the wild.
"Flying foxes are very slow to reproduce, producing only one pup a year and they don't come into sexual maturity for three years."
Media release, 15 May 2017
Clare Rickell, Wires