The Queensland Minister for Parks and Wildlife appears to be acutely embarrassed by the flood of overseas correspondence following Elizabeth Pierson’s article in the last issue of BATS. Most letters were from North America, but others came from Europe, Asia, and also from Australia, where the article has been widely circulated.
At present the Minister has asked his officers from Parks and Wildlife to prepare a full report on flying foxes an action he should have taken prior to his hasty decision!
Two Australian-wide natural history magazines are running articles on flying foxes, and it is hoped that these articles will generate more letters of protest from around Australia. Meanwhile, the Australian Mammal Society and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland are continuing to pressure the Minister to reverse his decision. The WPSQ organized several “bat nights” and trips to the flying fox camp in Brisbane which were very well attended by the public. They are also running a special trip to the Brisbane flying fox camp for journalists to show them how vulnerable flying foxes and their young are to any sort of disturbance or vandalism. A documentary on the flying fox debate is due to be screened on Australian-wide TV in early 1985.
The ground feeling is one of optimism, but one can never be sure of anything when politicians have to change face under public pressure. Whatever the decision, the support of BCI in generating world-wide awareness of the plight of flying foxes in Australia, resulting in international condemnation of the Minister’s actions, has been greatly appreciated by the supporters of flying foxes here in Australia.
(Editor’s Note: Your continued letters are urgently needed. The Honorable P. R. McKechnie, Minister for Tourism, National Parks, Sport and the Arts, Parliament House, Alice Street, Brisbane 4000, Queensland, Australia, is responsible for legislation permitting flying fox killing. Write to him, and ask friends to write. Point out that extinction is not the issue. Flying foxes are declining rapidly, yet large numbers are vital for pollination and seed dispersal of Australia’s hardwood forests. Ask what has been done. Has a moratorium on the killing of flying foxes beyond the limits of pre-existing legislation been enacted, and what research has been initiated to resolve perceived problems?