Fishing for bats

On Saturday, we went down to Ross River.  There’s a really neat swimming area complete with picnic tables, freshwater turtles, a dock, and even a rope swing.  The water felt incredibly refreshing since the day was scorching hot.  However, the first thing we noticed when we walked down wasn’t the gorgeous water but this huge black thing suspended in midair.  We were somewhat disturbed at first thinking it was a dead fruit bat hanging above us.  But it was actually much worse.  The bat was alive — hanging upside down off of a piece of string.  Soon after we arrived, we saw him struggling to break free, biting at the string.  He could fly fine but couldn’t get away.  Whenever he tired himself out and stopped, he would also start turning in dizzying circles as the string untwisted itself.

Fortunately after a while, a small group of people arrived to rescue him.  We assumed that they were part of wildlife control because they brought along a cage, rope, ladder, and giant bamboo stick (maybe 10 or 15 feet long) to try and cut the string.  However, it wasn’t the easiest task since the bat was reasonably far out from the dock and pretty high up in the tree.  It took them around two hours to cut the string (they only succeeded after a really tall uni student offered to help) and the bat dropped onto the dock.  They had a blanket and water waiting for him and as one of the women wrapped up the poor creature, another started cutting away the rest of the string.  The amount raveled around its leg was absurd.  With how tangled and wild the line was, you could tell that he must have been struggling for a while to work up those kinds of knots.  In addition, there was a hook going through his wing.  While the rescuer worked at the string, the bat’s huge eyes were just openly staring up at all of us, like a baby.  He was quivering and even though his face practically melted my heart, it was glaringly obvious that he was in a state of shock.

As the woman held the bat in her arms cooing about how traumatic that must have been, I couldn’t help to think how right she was.  Given how hot the day was, how long he’d been hanging there by a fishing line hooked through the thin membrane of his wing with a random metal thing randomly whacking you (it was extremely hard maneuvering the long stick), his experience qualified as more than just a bad day.  When they first arrived one of the rescuers even murmured how this was the worst one they’d seen.  How often does this happen?

Be careful what you fish for.


Fishing for bats

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