Garden to keep its colony cool

ALBURY Council is being forced to play a waiting game with the fruit bats that are plaguing the city’s botanic gardens.

But with the coming heatwave posing a real risk to their health, a wildlife rescue group is preparing to look after their welfare by hosing them down as the mercury climbs.

A colony of about 200 grey-headed flying-foxes moved into the gardens in October, with some giving birth soon after.

“We can’t take any action until the pups have fledged and are independent of the mums,” gardens curator Paul Scannell said.

“They may move on themselves, so it’s a bit of a waiting game.”

If they don’t move on, the forecast temperatures in the 40s next week could cause a problem.

The RSPCA this week reported mass deaths within 25 separate colonies of bats throughout southern Queensland as a result of high temperatures.

Mr Scannell said members of wildlife rescue group WIRES would help to hose down with water the trees where the bats are roosting.

“The volunteers have had a series of vaccinations for the Lyssa virus and will come and help out,” he said.

“There are hoses stationed around roost sites and we will hose the bats to keep them cool and comfortable.

“We will pick up the severely affected bats and nurse them back to health.”

Mr Scannell said the council was pleased to see the population had not increased too much.

“The numbers haven’t increased significantly because we don’t have a water source handy for cooling down,” he said.

“They have two other camps on the Murray River.”

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