Campbelltown bats on the mend after 500 dead due to heat

WIRES volunteer Cate Ryan is doing all she can to ensure the 12 bats in her care don’t become the latest Campbelltown casualties.

About 500 bats from the Campbelltown colony died on the weekend as a result of extreme heat.

Mrs Ryan was among the group of local WIRES volunteers who embarked on a rescue and body collection mission at the site.

However, her focus has now shifted to nursing the dozen bats – aged from four weeks old to 13 weeks old – in her care back to health.

“There’s only one who’s (survival) is questionable,” she said.

“It has head trauma – I think it may have been hit by a branch in the storm.”

Once nursed back to care, the bats will be given a sea change and transferred to the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic, where they will “learn how to become bats, the hierarchy and social structure”.

Eventually they will be released back into the wild at Bomaderry.

Mrs Ryan said the animals were unable to be released locally because the appropriate facilities weren’t available.

The St Helens Park resident said four would be transferred to the centre next week, while five more would make the journey in another five weeks. The remaining few were expected to head south around the end of February or start of March.

One of the baby bats being nursed back to health by WIRES volunteer Cate Ryan. Picture: Chris Lane

One of the baby bats being nursed back to health by WIRES volunteer Cate Ryan. Picture: Chris Lane

As a WIRES member for 12 years, Mrs Ryan said she’d never come across so many dead animals at one site.

“I personally haven’t seen it but some members in the south west branch have witnessed (death on a mass scale),” she said.

“In 2002 I think, the Cabramatta colony went down and lost about 2000 bats.

“It (the image of the dead bats) lingers in your mind but your can’t let it get to you otherwise you won’t be ready to take in the next lot of animals. Dwelling on it just does your head in.”

Mrs Ryan said she spent about eight hours a day caring for the bats, with feeds and washes.

She also has a baby wombat, baby kangaroo and two koalas in her care.

The result is long days that begin at 6am and end at about 1am.

But she said it was all part of being a WIRES volunteer – and she wouldn’t change it for the world.

“You have to be passionate about Australian wildlife,” she said.

“It’s what drives me. They have a special place in ecology.”

Though there was one native animal that was off limits.

“Snakes – they’re evil,” she said. “I leave them to the experts.”