Two enterprising Mullumbimby residents have come up with an ingenious way of helping local flying foxes suffering from the effects of the drought and habitat loss.
Felicity Grace and Megan Kearney have designed a flying fox feeding station using little more than a hills hoist and a few coat hangers.
Located on Left Bank Road between Tristan Parade and the Steiner school, the feeding station essentially recreates a food tree for the ailing mammals.
Soft fruits such as apples and pairs are threaded onto coat hangers and then hung from the hills hoist where bats can safely and easily land and eat the fruit.
‘Fying foxes are starving due to the lack of food from drought conditions, and the loss of rainforests on the east coast of Australia,’ said Ms Kearney, who works for Vitality Vet in Bangalow.
‘They’re really important pollinators for our rainforests so we need them to have health populations.’
Ms Grace called on nearby residents to lend a hand.
‘We’re going to have some bins here [with fruit in them] and we’d like you to join this project and help feed the bats’ she said.
According to Byron Council, many flying foxes are returning to their regular roosting areas after their winter migration, but the prolonged dry weather means many trees and plants have not produced the flowers and fruits that the mammals rely on.
Peter Boyd, Council’s Biodiversity Project Officer, said flying foxes couldn’t go without food for too long and it appeared this was resulting in an unusual amount of dead and sick flying foxes being found.
‘We are also seeing some flying foxes in trees that they would not normally be in and they seem to be weak and trying to gain strength before they fly back to their roosts,’ Mr Boyd said.
He advised locals against trying to pick up sick or injured flying foxes.
‘WIRES volunteers are experts in this area,’ he said.
He also said that Grey-headed and Black flying foxes were the key pollinators and seed dispersers in our bush and were vital for propagating more than 100 species of native trees and plants.
‘Without flying foxes there would be no food and shelter for our koalas, no pristine habitat for our many native birds, and no magnificent forests for all of us to enjoy,’ he said.
‘Flying foxes often get a bad rap in the community but they are native animals and their place in the ecosystem is so important and we need to look after them.’
Council is continuing work on its Flying Fox Improvements project which is supported by a grant from the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust.
The project is improving the condition of vegetation in five flying fox camps in the Byron Shire at Bangalow, Byron Bay, Suffolk Park and Mullumbimby.
For more information about flying foxes in the Byron Shire go to https://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Services/Environment/Native-animals-and-plants/Flying-foxes.