ACT News


Heat-affected flying foxes hosed down by volunteers

It's the sort of weather that has had people lingering in the supermarket cool section and contemplating whether an ice-cream sandwich satisfies as a meal.

Heatwave conditions have hit the capital hard with temperatures reaching 41.1 degrees on Saturday after a 40.5 degree peak on Friday.

Sunday temperatures eased reaching a maximum of 32 degrees and the weekly forecast shows things should cool off on Monday with a top of 29 degree expected and a Tuesday tipped to reach just 27 degrees.

Emergency Services were kept busy on Sunday racing out to a grass fire in Weston shortly after 1pm which grew to 20sqm in size before it was extinguished.

They attended a second grassfire four hours later at Coppins Crossing Road in Weston Creek but put it out before it reach two square metres in size. 

Smoke streaming out of Weetangera Primary School on Southwell Street had passersby worried, however ACT fire crews arrived before 2pm to find there was no fire and the smoke had been caused by an electrical short.


They remained on scene to monitor the school until electricians arrived.

However, above 40 degree conditions on Friday and Saturday had wildlife and fire fighting volunteers banding together to give life-saving support to they city's Flying Fox colony in Commonwealth Park.

ACT Wildlife's Marg Peachey said temperatures above 40 degrees were perilous for bats causing them to become distressed and in some cases die.

Knowing the serious risk to the animals, volunteers from ACT wildlife, the National Capital Authority and Jerrabomberra Rural Fire Service Brigade and members of ACT Fire and Rescue used takers to intervene.

"We had people out there assisting on both Friday and Saturday," she said.

"When the bats are distressed they come together in the centre of a tree and try and move down the trunk. Once they start going down it is dire straits for them."

"It gets them moving to get air on their wings which has a cooling effect, and it reduce the air temperature dramatically," she said.

Stirring up the colony provided relief but also mitigated dehydration as it encouraged bats to fly over Lake Burley and drink water, something the animals don't typically until sunset when they leave the area.

ACT Wildlife drew attention to the "animal welfare" concern late last week but Ms Peachey said she was pleased with the cooperative efforts of authorities and volunteers to act quickly.

"There are a lot of conflicting interests. They don't like the hoses on too much as it costs a lot with water and electricity," she said.

"We initiated the conversation. It is an animal welfare issue. You can't have bats dying all around Commonwealth Park especially as a proportion of them are carrying lyssavirus. That's a public health issue."