Wildlife Aid blames Singleton bat deaths on lack of tree cover in Burdekin Park

BAKED: Flying foxes lay dead on the ground in Singleton’s Burdekin Park after last week’s heatwave. Wildlife volunteers say the removal of trees in the park contributed to the heat stress. Picture: Wildlife Aid IncANIMAL welfare organisation Wildlife Aid has blamed the deaths of up to 1000 flying foxes in Singleton in last week’s heatwaveon the felling of treesin the town’s main park.
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Volunteers are still removing dead bats from Burdekin Park, in the Singleton CBD, where they “cooked from the inside, out” as temperatures soared to 46 degrees on Saturday.

Many of the bats were found still gripping the trees as their lifeless bodies hang below.

“We’ve seen bats die after a heatwave before, but nothing like these figures,” Wildlife Aid bat coordinator Jaala Presland said.

“It wouldn’t be unreasonable to estimate 1000 bats have died, and they’re still dying –that’s a very big chunk considering the size of the camp before the heat.”

The influx of bats over more than a decade had all but destroyed most of the trees in thepark, which was eventually shut to the public due to the danger of falling branches as well as other health and safety concerns before a councilclean-up campaign.

Before Friday, Wildlife Aid estimated the size of the camp in Burdekin Park to be about 2000, which is down significantly on estimates of up to 30,000 bats that called the park home before dozens of badly damaged trees were removedlast year.

Bats lay dead in Singleton’s Burdekin Park after the heatwave. Video: Wildlife Aid IncFormer mayor John Martin said the strategy was successful, as there was nowhere for the bats to roost, granting reprieve to residents who had been “tormented” by the colony for years.

However, Ms Presland said the removal of trees took away shade and a source of nutrition in the park, producing a nasty side effect on the endangered species.

“You can’t imagine what they would have went through,” she said.

“In the past, theywould have climbed up into the canopies of the trees to cool down in the shade. Taking away their habitat may have moved some of them on, but most of the bats still in the park had nowhere to go and cooked from the inside, out.”

No trees turned flying foxes into frying foxes: rescuers Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

Bats at East Cessnock on November 8, 2016. Picture: Marina Neil

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

THE BATS ARE BACK: Hundreds of flying foxes have returned to the corner of Long Street and Old Maitland Road, East Cessnock in November 2016. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bats in central Maitland, November 3, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Rachelle Corcoran

Bats at Carrington in early 2016. Picture: Susan Mitchell

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: ShayLeigh Riddle

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Bats on the barricades at Burdekin Park in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Flying foxes in the Hunter region in early 2016.

Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon inspects the bats with East Cessnock residents Cindy Jeffery and Pamela Jeffery in April 2016.

East Cessnock bats in early 2016.

Behind Cessnock East Public School, early 2016 Picture: Emmie Price

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kimberly Johnson

Dead bats near East Cessnock School in early 2016. . Picture: Michelle Bond

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Crystal Maree Norden

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Daniel Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Bats in the Hunter region in early 2016. Picture: Kylie Radford

Cessnock Bat Camp in early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Taken Cessnock Bat Camp. Picture: April Hatchamana

Cessnock Bat Camp in early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Cessnock bat camp, early 2016. Picture: April Hatchamana

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Candice Preece

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Tiarna Croft

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Walter Upson

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Dyarnie Riddock

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Picture: Neil Lyle

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. INSTA @ynot_young_nomads_on_tour_ #battyhunter #battyhunters

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Fried bat in Blackwood Avenue. Picture: Nathan Wright

Bats in the Hunter, early 2016. Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

Bats and damage in Burdekin Park, Singleton in early 2016. Pictures: Shannon Dann

TweetFacebook The Hunter’s bat plague: photosA collection of photos of flying fox camps across the Hunter. Pictures: Various photographersCr Martin defended his council’s decision to remove the trees.

“It was done legally and legitimately,” he said. “The park was broken down and ruined, the situation was unbearable. My opinion was then, and still is now, we had to do something about it.”

There had not been any reports of deaths at other troublesome bat colonies in Cessnock and Maitland.

Elsewhere in the state, thousands of bats died in Casino in northern NSW.

Ms Presland said while it was common for a percentage of bats to die in hot weather, the weekend’s death toll was the worst since the first “heat stress event” in 2004, when 2500 bats died.

Theweekend roasting killed a higher number of bats as a proportion of the total colony, and came after another 100 died in January.

Residents are being warnednot to touch thebat carcasses, which can carry the deadly lyssavirus, instead urging they be reported.