Animal rescuers have asked Wagga gardeners to use wildlife-friendly netting on their fruit trees due to more of the city's flying fox population getting trapped, injured or killed.
Wagga is home to a migratory group of little red flying foxes and a permanent population of grey-headed flying foxes which has grown into the thousands due to favourable conditions.
WIRES Riverina branch bat coordinator Glenda Pym said the group's volunteers had been called out half a dozen times recently to rescue flying foxes.
"Because of the amazing season we have had this year with the lovely rain and the growth, and also in combination with the bushfires last summer destroying all the feed trees that our flying foxes would normally be in, they have moved further west," she said.
"We have large numbers of our endemic species, which is the grey-headed flying fox, and our nomadic species the little red flying fox, and we have vastly more numbers than we would normally have.
"Combine that with lovely fruit in people's yards and people trying to protect their fruit by putting nets up and the issue we have had more than ever before is flying foxes going after apricots and figs and getting tangled up."
Ms Pym said flying foxes panic when they are trapped and the netting cuts into their skin and blocks circulation, which can kill off bones and wing membranes leading to the animal having to be put down.
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WIRES latest rescue was a juvenile male little red flying fox called 'Billy' who was trapped in a barbed wire while trying to get to fruit at Temora.
The group plans to send Billy to a large aviary on the South Coast so he can learn to socialise with other bats before being released.
Ms Pym said a wildlife-friendly tree coverings had "a very fine net that you can't get your fingers through" and was securely tied at the bottom of the tree so that flying foxes could not climb under it.
She said wildlife-friendly netting and fencing was readily available online and in hardware stores.
Clusters of fruit on a tree can also be secured individually with a washing bag designed for delicate clothing items.
Ms Pym said anyone who finds a bat trapped in a net or hanging low near the ground should never touch the animal due to the minor risk of a rabies-like virus and instead call WIRES on 1300 094 737.
"The importance of these animals is that they are like the 'night gardeners'; the job that a bee does during the day, pollinating, is exactly what flying foxes do at night time," she said.
"There are some species of tree that only release their pollen at night, so these guys are on hand as they flying from tree to tree and they keep our forests robust and healthy spreading their genes to different locations.
"They do get a bit of a hard rap, they are not seen as cute and cuddly or fluffy but when you get up close you can see how special they are; incredibly intelligent, incredible social structure and really misunderstood and really important to our country."
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