End date in sight for shooting of flying-foxes, but still too far off
Humane Society International (HSI) has today welcomed the clarification by the NSW Government on the conditions under which licences to shoot flying-foxes will be issued*. This follows many years of HSI working with key stakeholders such as orchardists to get the NSW Government to commit to the end of licenced shooting of flying-foxes together with a netting subsidy program for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“Whilst we are extremely disappointed that in some situations flying-foxes will continue to be shot until 2020, HSI is relieved that the NSW Government has finally committed to an end date for shooting, in full knowledge that the only effective method of protecting crops is to install full exclusion netting,” said HSI’s Alexia Wellbelove.
“In recent years HSI has actively worked with all stakeholders including orchardists, many of which have now taken up the Government subsidy and installed nets. We hope that the majority of orchardists will make the most of this opportunity while the funding lasts to protect their crops and stop relying on inherently cruel shooting methods. For those that continue to shoot, the NSW Government must ensure the highest welfare conditions are complied with to minimise suffering, and that this ineffective and outdated practice is discouraged wherever possible,” continued Ms Wellbelove.
The species most likely to be shot in New South Wales is the grey-headed flying-fox, a federally and state protected threatened species. Shooting of flying-foxes not only has conservation concerns, but a 2009 independent review also found that shooting flying-foxes was ‘ethically and legally unacceptable’ due to significant animal welfare problems.
HSI will also be examining the newly released draft camp management policy to ensure that decisions on flying-fox camp management are undertaken at a Federal or State level and not devolved to local councils.
“As our housing encroaches on flying-fox habitat, and we increasingly wish to live in areas surrounded by native vegetation, it is essential that protection is given to flying-foxes and areas set aside where they can roost without coming into conflict with humans. Governments need to tackle this long term issue head on, and in the meantime we need to realise that simply moving flying-foxes on from an area is not always going to be the best solution,” continued Ms Wellbelove.
The grey-headed flying-fox is listed as a nationally threatened species under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999, after a scientific nomination prepared by HSI. HSI has consistently campaigned to ensure that the Commonwealth retains national responsibility for protecting this species and these powers are not delegated to local councils.
“Flying-foxes provide significant benefits to our environment. It is HSI’s hope that these new Government policies will not only recognise this important role but also ensure that flying-foxes continue to be protected,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.