This is Peb­bles, saved but not out of dan­ger

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

YOU see them by the hun­dreds, thou­sands even – the bats crowd­ing the early even­ing sky over Port Dou­glas.

The fly­out goes on and on and it seems their num­bers are in­fi­nite.

Yet the ex­perts say it isn’t so. Some bat species are de­clin­ing at a cat­a­strophic rate, such as the 10 per cent a year de­cline in the pop­u­la­tion of Spec­ta­cled Fly­ing Foxes like lit­tle Peb­bles (pic­tured).

When the tran­si­tory Lit­tle Red Fly­ing Foxes come to town, bat num­bers swell for the few weeks they are here, which ac­counts for home­grown the­o­ries that bat pop­u­la­tions are rag­ing out of con­trol.

After gorg­ing on sea­sonal flow­er­ing blos­som they’ll move on to some­where else.

The Spec­ta­cled Fly­ing Foxes stay.

Sci­en­tists aren’t sure why bat num­bers are fall­ing to the point where they may soon be on the en­dan­gered species list. En­coun­ters with barbed wire fences, loss of habi­tat, var­i­ous type of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, in fact, may all con­trib­ute to this.

The species is vul­ner­a­ble be­cause the fe­males don’t re­pro­duce un­til the age of three, and when they do, they have only one off­spring per year. Build­ing num­bers can be very slow.

That’s why Con­nie Kerr, a con­fessed bat nut and one of the main fig­ures be­hind the new Nightwings Rain­for­est Cen­tre be­ing built ad­ja­cent to the high­way a bit north of Wonga Beach, is so pro­tec­tive of lit­tle ones like Peb­bles, who’s just three weeks old and was brought to her for care after be­ing found at Peb­bly Beach.

Ms Kerr has a mes­sage to get out there – if you find a bat that needs help, do not touch or han­dle it your­self.

Call qual­i­fied car­ers for help, such as Nightwings.

The car­ers are trained, and also vac­ci­nated, to safely han­dle these an­i­mals.

For help, call 4099 3390.

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Peb­bles, the Spec­ta­cled Fly­ing Fox

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