October 2023: Beginning in late October there have been increased reports of flying-fox pup mortalities in multiple states. Pups have been found dead in various locations in NSW and Qld including the Central West and Northern Rivers areas of NSW, and Brisbane and surrounding areas in SE Qld. The mortality events include premature births of pups and neonatal death. Indications of mass pup abandonment events have also been recorded in Far North Qld. Predominantly grey-headed flying-foxes are impacted but some reports include black flying-foxes.
Wildlife rehabilitators in NSW, Qld, Vic and the ACT have reported sharp increases in the number of pups presenting into care. Rehabilitators in SA report similar trends however, this may be reflective of the increased size of the Adelaide camp with a recent influx of grey-headed flying-foxes, rather than related to the other events.
Extreme weather may be implicated in some but not all of the reported events. There are indications of an acute starvation event caused by food shortages in SE Qld and northern NSW.
While pups comprise most of the affected animals there have been a few reports of adult mortalities, including an increase in electrocutions and a few cases of Flying-fox Paralysis Syndrome which has been occurring for the last few summers.
Members of the public are reminded not to handle flying-foxes due to the risk of exposure to diseases such as Australian bat lyssavirus. If you find a sick, injured or abandoned flying-fox, contact a licensed wildlife care organisation or local veterinarian. In the event of a bite, scratch or other significant contact with a bat, seek medical attention urgently. Contact your local Public Health agency for further advice. Pet owners in affected areas should take steps to prevent direct contact between their pet and a bat e.g. keeping the pet confined at night. If your pet has interacted with a bat, seek prompt assistance from your local veterinary practitioner.
If you see any unusual signs of disease or deaths in wildlife you can report it to:
· Your WHA Coordinator
· The 24 hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888
· Your local veterinarian
· Complete the Flying-fox Mass Mortality and Morbidity Event Report Form
WHA Bat Health page
Download PPE Information for Bat Handlers
Download Flying-fox translocation and transport guidelines
Download Public Health Communication Guide