NSW government approves destruction of vital flying fox habitat
Humane Society International (HSI) today called upon the Commonwealth and NSW state governments to act in accordance with Federal and State conservation regulations to protect threatened flying-fox species, and to end their politically motivated war against an ecologically crucial keystone species. HSI has discovered that the NSW government has quietly allowed the destruction of 23% of flying-fox roosting habitat at Batemans Bay, a legally recognised nationally-important flying-fox camp. This action is entirely separate and additional to the much publicised planned dispersal of the same camp.
HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain said, “The destructive actions of the NSW government and the non-action of the Federal government are clearly in conflict with their legal obligations to protect the much persecuted grey-headed flying-fox. With colonies under attack by officialdom in Batemans Bay, Sydney’s Northern Beaches (Avalon) and Cessnock, to name but a few, governments are exerting more downward pressure on the species survival. Governments are also complicit through lack of action against vigilante members of the public who are illegally disturbing, including attempts to burn, thousands of flying-foxes on a regular basis across the state.”
The combined government management actions, the latest of which is NSW Premier Mike Baird’s provision of $2.5 million of public money to attempt flying-fox dispersal at Batemans Bay (classed as being unlikely to succeed in the draft dispersal plan for the camp), are quite simply perverse and against the public interest. The grey-headed flying-fox is protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
Mr Quartermain continued, “We have an absurd situation where in effect the Commonwealth has delegated responsibility to the States, who have in turn delegated responsibility to local councils, who then respond to a handful of the noisiest individuals. Rather than managing this situation for the protection of the species and the local community, councils are predominantly proceeding to harm the flying-foxes, spending vast amounts of public money and all for the sake of a process likely to fail. So we end up spending millions of dollars to stop the bellyaching of a few individuals, funding that should be spent on recovering the species, but of course never has been.”
HSI was responsible for the listing of the grey-headed flying-fox as a species “Vulnerable to extinction” under the EPBC Act in 2001, and has been to the Federal, NSW and Victorian courts on a number of occasions to protect them. Governments have yet to publish a much needed Recovery Plan for the species.
“We are in the process of seeking further legal advice, and yesterday asked Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to immediately “call-in” the proposed habitat destruction and flying-fox disturbance at Batemans Bay under the EPBC Act,” concluded Mr Quartermain.