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7 April 2011 - Groups call on Industry Minister to implement election promise on flying-foxes      

Groups call on Industry Minister to implement election promise on flying-foxes

7 April 2011
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Conservation and welfare groups, Humane Society International, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Bat Advocacy and Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society, have today written to the Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson asking for only non-lethal, humane ways of population control for a colony of threatened grey-headed flying-foxes outside Orange.  

In recent media reports, the Minister has indicated she would consider protocols for flying-foxes but fails to note they are a threatened, native species, protected under both State and Federal Environment legislation. 

Minister Hodgkinson’s comments appear inconsistent with the Coalitions’ recent commitment as part of its Natural Environment Policy.

During the election campaign, the coalition of groups welcomed the Coalition’s plans for up to $5 million for netting smaller farms in the Sydney basin to protect crops from flying foxes. The then Shadow Minister for the Environment, Catherine Cusack MLC, confirmed that as part of the package the issuing of licences to shoot flying-foxes in NSW would be phased-out within two years.

“Statements made by Minister Hodgkinson are incredibly alarming and pose a significant threat to a threatened native species” said Alexia Wellbelove of Humane Society International. “Any move to fast-track the shooting of flying-foxes in Orange is likely to have significant impact to the species nationally, in addition to significant welfare implications”.

Flying-foxes are currently experiencing a protracted food crisis, resulting from higher than average rainfalls along eastern coastal areas since 2010, compounded by recent floods.

“Recent events in Orange are most likely a direct result of flying-foxes desperate search for food, with their native food sources in short supply. It is therefore essential that we do everything to help the species and not harm them” said Storm Stanford of Bat Advocacy.  

“The Coalition’s pre-election commitment was a practical solution supported by farmers and conservationists alike. We urge the new State government to honour its commitments to ending the cruel and inhumane practice of flying-fox shooting” said Pepe Clarke of Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“If the Minister is serious about dealing with this issue in a responsible manner, she must refer any proposed actions to the Federal Environment Department for further investigation so that the significance of the impacts of these actions on a protected native species can be fully considered with legal certainty” concluded Alexia Wellbelove.

The Humane Society International, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Bat Advocacy and Ku-ring-gai Bat Conservation Society are calling on the Minister to urgently implement their election promise for an urgent end to lethal and cruel methods of flying fox population control.

For comment and information contact:

Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager, HSI: 0415 954 600
Storm Stanford, Bat Advocacy: 0431 574 701
Jane Garcia, Nature Conservation Council of NSW: 0402 757 342

Notes:

  • Licenses are given to stone fruit growers to shoot and maim approximately a thousand grey-headed flying-foxes a year
  • NSW is the only state in Australia which issues licenses to shoot grey-headed flying-foxes, which are listed as threatened species under both state and federal legislation
  • The grey-headed flying-fox was listed on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2001
  • A 2009 expert review panel told the Environment Minister that the animal welfare issues arising from shooting flying-foxes are ‘unacceptable ethically and legally’
  • Report on deaths and injuries to Grey-headed Flying-foxes, Pteropus poliocephalus shot in an orchard near Sydney, NSW http://hsi.org.au/editor/assets/Actions/Report_for_orc_%20shoot_2007.pdf
  • For more information about HSI’s long-running campaign to end the shooting of flying-foxes see http://hsi.org.au/index.php?catID=263




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