The state government of Queensland, Australia, is banning the shooting of all flying foxes beginning September 1. And that, says Lawrence Pope, president of Victorian Advocates for Animals, is “a fabulous outcome for Australian conservation.”
Australian fruit growers have been killing flying foxes, which many blame for crop losses, for generations. Conservationists, including BCI Science Advisors Greg Richards, Bruce Thomson and Leslie S. Hall, have struggled for years to reduce the slaughter. BCI members responded with a letter-writing campaign that demanded protection.
In 1999, with populations of grey-headed flying foxes in severe decline, the species was declared “vulnerable” nationally, but the listing came with a huge loophole: special state-issued “Damage Mitigation Permits” allowed the shooting of flying foxes for crop protection.
Now, however, Andrew McNamara, State Minister for Sustainability, has declared that “no further Damage Mitigation Permits will be granted in Queensland for shooting flying foxes after 1 September.”
McNamara cited the bats’ important role as plant pollinators and said that the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee had concluded that shooting flying foxes is inhumane. “Thankfully,” McNamara said, “the number of permit applications has been declining in recent years, as growers recognize that the only secure method of protecting their crops is by netting. I’m advised the vast majority of growers have moved to netting.”
Fruit growers immediately vowed efforts to overturn the ban, even as conservation groups promised to seek a similar ban in New South Wales.
BCI members can once again help protect the flying foxes of Australia. Humane Society International Australia asks that supporters email The Hon. Verity Firth, New South Wales Minister for Climate Change and Environment, and ask that New South Wales follow the Queensland example and stop issuing permits for shooting flying foxes. The email address is email@example.com.