Australia Flying foxes found slaughtered in Sunshine Coast hinterland

14:09  14 november  2017
14:09  14 november  2017 Source:   ABC News

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A slaughtered flying fox found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland by bat rescuer Sammy Ringer. (Credit: Audience submitted). In a thick, dense patch of almost impenetrable bush in the Sunshine Coast hinterland , the mutilated remains of dozens of grey-headed flying foxes were found

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A slaughtered flying fox found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland by bat rescuer Sammy Ringer.© Provided by ABC News A slaughtered flying fox found in the Sunshine Coast hinterland by bat rescuer Sammy Ringer.

In a thick, dense patch of almost impenetrable bush in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the mutilated remains of dozens of grey-headed flying foxes were found splattered across the forest floor.

Others were injured and would die what RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty described as an "agonising death" hours later.

They had been shot, with pellets found in all of the carcasses that were underwent an autopsy.

But the gunshot wound was not enough to kill many of them instantly.

The tally of the dead of Australia's largest bats in this section of forest would later mount to between 50 and 60.

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Many more orphaned babies were left to die in the trees above, waiting hopelessly for their mothers to return.

Bat rescuer Sammy Ringer was alerted to the carnage last week by a resident who heard the shots being fired in the late afternoon.

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The resident went searching for the source of the noise and came across a few dead flying foxes.

When Ms Ringer went to investigate with another neighbour and three children, she discovered the situation was far worse.

"As we got further into the colony, there was a pretty horrendous smell of bats that had been shot previously," she said. "They had been lying on the ground for maybe a week or two."

'It was a horrific scene'

Rescuing the orphaned bats was not going to be an easy task.

"When you walk into a colony, the bats start to fly around and it is very difficult to work out how many orphaned bats there might be," Ms Ringer said.

"Luckily I had a couple of kids with me whose eyes are sharper than mine. A little boy said there was one hanging up a tree which we were able to rescue.

"This guy was no longer hanging on to its mother and it would have been around four weeks old.

"Without its mother, it would die as the mother would still be feeding it. It would probably have had another three or four weeks before it could be independent."

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Another resident had found an orphaned bat lying on the ground. That bat has gone into intensive care.

Ms Ringer and her small group remained in the forest for hours and "we kept coming across more dead bats".

"It was a horrific scene. I tried to tell the kids to stand back, but they were surprisingly OK, they wanted to keep going to find what they could save," she said.

"They did not touch any of the creatures, they were simply eyes trying to find those that could be saved."

Only two baby bats were rescued.

"There were that many mothers dead, there were going to babies hanging in the trees. We had to leave probably dozens of babies to die," Ms Ringer said. She has been a bat rescuer for seven years and has never come across anything so awful.

"It is just devastating. Some people don't like bats, but the colony wasn't that close to houses," she said.

RSPCA, department launch investigation

Mr Beatty said the RSCPA was looking into the incident, as was the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP).

"It appears a number of the flying foxes died an agonising death, that's why the RSPCA is involved," he said.

"It is so frustrating people feel the need to do this. Bats play a vital role in the pollination of our environment. They keep it viable and growing."

The EHP lists the grey-headed flying fox as "vulnerable" and it is ranked as a "critical priority".

Killing the flying foxes is illegal in Victoria but can occur lawfully under a licence in Queensland and New South Wales.

The EHP has confirmed it is investigating.

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