HSI Celebrates End to NSW Flying-fox Shooting
Humane Society International (HSI) celebrates Wednesday’s end to the licenced shooting of flying-foxes for crop protection in New South Wales, a state Government commitment which followed many years of HSI working with key stakeholders for the benefit of both orchardists and the environment. The completion of the four-year shooting phase out is tied to the successful orchard netting subsidy program, a practical solution to avoid the unacceptable practice of shooting flying-foxes while providing protection for crops.
The NSW Government introduced the $5 million scheme to subsidise the cost of installing flying-fox exclusion netting for commercial orchardists in mid-2011 in an effort to eliminate the need to issue shooting licences to mitigate flying-fox damage to crops. Once a netting subsidy was received, the orchardist was no longer eligible for a shooting licence for that area of the property, and the Office of Environment and Heritage will now only issue shooting licences in tightly defined special circumstances, an allowance which HSI understands has resulted in just two orchards being granted licences to continue the practice.
“Despite a couple of orchardists retaining their licences to shoot, this policy has been hugely successful and will see thousands of threatened flying-foxes spared cruel deaths by shooting each year,” said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain. “It doesn’t take much thought to realise why shooting flying-foxes is especially cruel, with punctured wings not being particularly effective for flight and leading to slow deaths by starvation. But thanks to this practical policy, orchardists have been able to equip themselves with crop-protecting, flying-fox friendly netting – it’s a win-win situation,” Mr Quartermain continued.
The species most likely to be shot in New South Wales, the grey-headed flying-fox, is listed as a threatened species under both Commonwealth and NSW environment legislation, the former following a scientific nomination prepared by HSI. However the recently released NSW Flying-fox Camp Management Policy has seen a range of licences issued to disperse colonies and destroy core habitat of the grey-headed flying-fox, counteracting the gains made through this week’s end to shooting licences.
“Although we are thrilled at this rare bright spot for flying-fox conservation and hope it leads to similar initiatives elsewhere as an example of conflict resolution done right, the fact remains that the NSW Camp Management Policy is negating the benefits. In line with the end to shooting, HSI calls on the state Government to amend their Camp Management Policy to focus on the conservation of this threatened species, rather than the wishes and whims of those who want to harm them” Mr Quartermain concluded.