Delays in review while NSW Government works to condone cruelty
Coalition calls to stop the shooting of flying-foxes
A coalition of organisations today spoke out at the continuing delays in the Government’s review into the issuing of licences to shoot Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes. The New South Wales Government issues licences allowing approximately a thousand of these flying-foxes to be cruelly shot every summer. The licenses are given to stone fruit growers to shoot grey-headed flying-foxes, a species threatened with extinction.
A review of the licensing arrangement has been underway since February, with findings expected to be published in May this year. It is now understood that the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change is sitting on the report, whilst they figure out how to continue shooting the flying-foxes.
Submissions to the review have outlined the inherently cruel nature of shooting, as a large proportion of the animals killed are breeding females which are often left wounded to die a slow and painful death.
“Ethical concerns over the practice of shooting of flying-foxes in commercial fruit orchards have been raised for many years”, said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International, “We now have the information available detailing the inhumane nature of this practice, yet the Government is still considering licensing the shooting for another year”.
The licenses are issued by the Department of Environment and Climate Change under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act but it is believed they result in offences being committed under the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act administered by the Department of Primary Industries, evidenced in a recently published report1. It is no longer tenable for the Department of Environment and Climate Change to continue issuing licences to shoot flying foxes knowing that the licensee risks prosecution under legislation from another Government department.
With the fruit season fast approaching the coalition of group is urging the Government to take urgent action and cease issuing licences to shoot flying-foxes. This action has already been taken by the Queensland Government who ceased issuing licenses to shoot flying-foxes because it is inhumane. The coalition supports the government providing financial assistance to those orchardists that will be affected.
“In 2001 the NSW Government committed to phasing out the shooting of this threatened species”, said Nick Edards of Bat Advocacy, “With recovery of the Grey-Headed Flying-Fox population dependent on urgent action being taken to eliminate any factor that contributes to its decline, we are calling for the NSW Government to cease issuing licences to shoot flying-foxes.”
It is clear that the public does not support the continued shooting of flying-foxes in NSW. This has been demonstrated through the Grey Cross campaign (www.thegreycross.org) launched on 1st June which already has 2140 signatures and climbing.
“The Australian public is calling for an end to shooting of flying-foxes” said Stan Wood of WIRES, “By continuing to sanction shooting, the NSW Government is sanctioning the loss of important breeding females, who leave behind their orphaned young, who then face a slow death from hunger and thirst.”
An immediate ban on shooting is required given the likely extinction of the species before the end of this century unless the current population decline is arrested.
- ‘Report on deaths and injuries to Grey-headed Flying-foxes, Pteropus poliocephalus shot in an orchard near Sydney, NSW’, March 2009 available to download from http://www.hsi.org.au/editor/assets/Actions/Report_for_orc_%20shoot_2007.pdf
- The report ‘Why NSW Should Ban the Shooting of Flying-foxes’ endorsed by 55 conservation, animals welfare and wildlife rescue organisations available to download from http://www.hsi.org.au/editor/assets/Actions/FFreport4Jan09.pdf
- Statements of support from fruit-growers opposed to shooting can also be viewed at http://www.hsi.org.au/editor/assets/Actions/FruitGrowers_support_%20netting.pdf