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Heat kills off thousands of flying foxes

A baby flying fox rescued by WIRES volunteers at Casino.
A baby flying fox rescued by WIRES volunteers at Casino. Dee Hartin

UPDATE 6.20am: TEMPERATURES across the Northern Rivers are expected to ease significantly today after the weekend's intense heat wave killed more than 2000 flying foxes at Casino.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting top temperatures today of between 26°C on the coast and 30°C at Grafton.

However, things are expected to heat up again as the week progresses, despite forecasts of rain increasing through the week.

At Lismore, temperatures are expected to pass 30°C on Friday, reaching 33°C and then 35°C on Saturday before easing slightly to 32C on Sunday.

Grafton is expected to get past 30°C a day earlier, hitting 33°C on Thursday before soaring to 37°C for Friday and Saturday and easing slightly to 35°C on Sunday.

Things will be cooler on the coast, with temperatures peaking at 28°C on Friday and Saturday.

TODAY'S FORECAST:

  • Byron Bay: 26°C Partly cloudy.
  • Lismore: 29°C Partly cloudy.
  • Yamba: 26°C Partly cloudy.
  • Grafton: 30°C Possible shower.
  • Evans Head: 27°C Partly cloudy.
  • Ballina: 27°C Partly cloudy.
  • Murwillumbah: 29°C Possible shower.
  • Tweed Heads: 26°C Partly cloudy.

NOVEMBER 16: A SEARING heatwave that hammered Casino with temperatures reaching 42C over Saturday and Sunday has killed more than 2000 native flying foxes, Richmond Valley Council has confirmed.

In a statement, the council said bats were falling from the trees along the bank of the Richmond River and around Hickey and Barker streets, with many more dead bats still in the trees.

As council officers worked to clear the bodies from the ground and the trees over the weekend, WIRES volunteers were working to save young flying foxes suffering from the high temperatures or orphaned by the heatwave.

Rural Fire Service volunteers also stepped in to help by spraying down the undergrowth around the bat colony in an effort to bring the temperature down.

However, the council is urging residents to resist the urge to personally help any live bats they find for safety reasons and general manager John Walker said parents and teachers needed to be "especially vigilant" about children approaching live bats.

Mr Walker warned the bats could bite or scratch, which carried the risk of lyssavirus.

Council officers would continue working to clear the bodies through the week, but would not be able to get all of them. Residents could expect a "quite unbearable" smell, he said.

Some of the dead animals were on private property and warned "large numbers" of dead bats in trees were "out of the reach of council crews". Still more had fallen on inaccessible parts of the riverbank.

"Some areas along the riverbank are inaccessible and the stench from the rotting carcasses will be quite unbearable for some time yet," Mr Walker was quoted saying in the statement.

"Whatever anyone's opinion is either side of the bat debate, no one wishes this sort of tragedy on the bats.

"It just goes to show the extent and intensity of the heatwave we had over the weekend. Bats don't know how to deal with the heat."

If you see a bat in distress, phone WIRES Northern Rivers on 6628 1898 or Richmond Valley Council on 6660 0300.

Topics:  casino editors picks flying foxes heat wave richmond valley council rural fire service weather wires northern rivers



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