HSI CONDEMNS CHARTERS TOWERS FLYING FOX DISPERSAL
17 December 2017
Humane Society International (HSI) has been closely following the dispersal activities at Charters Towers in Queensland of a colony of little red flying foxes and black flying foxes which began on 9th December 2013 with great concern. HSI has a longstanding interest in the conservation of flying-foxes, having been responsible for a number of nominations under federal environmental law.
As a conservation and animal welfare organisation, we have been concerned at a number of recent developments in Queensland regarding the number of damage mitigation permits issued. This concern was highlighted recently, by the decision to issue a damage mitigation permit to disperse the flying-foxes currently roosting in Charters Towers.
HSI acknowledges that living in close proximity to large numbers of bats is problematic but this does not justify management methods that clearly have significant welfare outcomes.
The birthing period for the black flying fox starts in late October and newborn animals are fully dependant on the parental female for several months. It is therefore highly likely that the dispersal authorised at Charters Towers will result in the death or injury of young black flying foxes in the camp.
Dispersal during the period when young are fully dependant on the mother has a high likelihood of causing the mother and young to become separated leading to the death of the young, potentially over an extended period of time through dehydration, malnutrition or predation. The use of water hoses to effect the dispersal has a high likelihood of causing injury to both adults and the young.
Prior to the start of the dispersal, HSI wrote to the Queensland Government on 27th November 2013 urging them to step in and as a matter of priority call a halt to the proposed dispersal. HSI believes that at a minimum the Charters Towers Council should be able to demonstrate which mitigation measures have been put in place to mitigate the risk of injury or death to any flying foxes impacted by the Charters Towers dispersal, as well as what mitigation measures have been put in place to deal with young black flying foxes that are separated from their mothers.
Sadly our letter has gone unanswered and so HSI is now examining further legal options, and has requested a copy of the Dispersal Mitigation Permit so that we can ascertain whether these vital issues were addressed before the dispersal began.
HSI does not believe that this dispersal should have gone ahead nor should it continue, and we therefore urge the Queensland Government to call a halt to any further dispersal due to the significant welfare implications that will likely arise from the dispersal.