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20 February 2009 - Stop shooting climate change allies Demands a coalition of more than 60 organisations      

STOP SHOOTING CLIMATE CHANGE ALLIES DEMANDS A COALITION OF MORE THAN 60 ORGANISATIONS

Sydney, 20 February 2009

They are our allies in the fight against climate change and a species threatened with extinction, yet the New South Wales Government issues licences for approximately a thousand of them to be cruelly shot every summer. A coalition of over 60 conservation, wildlife rescue and animal welfare organisations, with support from wildlife friendly fruit growers, has launched a campaign to stop it.

The species is the grey-headed flying-fox and its numbers are dropping dramatically.

The NSW Government gives out licences to shoot flying-foxes to the small number of fruit growers that have not netted their orchards and thus left their fruit exposed.

“As busy pollinators and seed dispersers, flying-foxes play a crucial role in maintaining healthy forests, which in turn play a critical role as carbon sinks to combat climate change”, said Mina Bassarova from WWF.

Shooting flying foxes is horribly cruel. The animals are rarely killed outright, instead left to die slowly from multiple wounds, fractures and dehydration.

“Worse, a high proportion of the animals shot are females with young attached, or the young are left to starve in the colony making the overall death toll much higher”, said Nicola Beynon from Humane Society International.

“Wildlife carers who rescue and euthanase the brutally injured animals and their abandoned young say they cannot face another flying-fox killing season”, said Stan Wood, CEO of WIRES.

 “It is well known that shooting flying-foxes is not a successful way to protect fruit crops from flying-foxes and many growers have switched to nets finding them more cost-effective,” said Marney Bonner NWC.

“We do not agree with the shooting of native birds and bats.  It may seem like an easy way out but it does little to improve profitability.  Nets have saved our crops and therefore our profits 100 per cent”, said John Gough, fruit farmer from Vilass Pty Ltd.

“With netting over our orchard we have peace of mind during the harvest; no damage to the fruit from flying foxes, birds or possums - and we are preserving our wildlife” said Patti Stacey, Duck Creek Mountain Fruits and Secretary of the Australian Custard Apple Growers Association.

The 60+ organisations are asking the NSW Government to stop issuing licences to shoot flying foxes immediately. They support the provision of financial assistance from the Government for fruit growers to net their fruit crops.

The Queensland Government took the decision last year to stop issuing licences to shoot flying-foxes after taking advice that the practice is inhumane. NSW is the last Government in Australia still allowing it to continue.

The grey-headed flying-fox is protected as a species ‘vulnerable’ to extinction under both NSW and Federal threatened species lawsIt is the only listed threatened species for which the NSW Government has a dedicated culling program.

Conservationists are considering nominating the grey-headed flying-fox for upgraded protection as ‘endangered’ due to ongoing population decline.

“The NSW Government is sending a mixed message by listing flying-foxes as a threatened species and yet providing no guarantee of their protection. The NSW public does not support shooting threatened species nor animal cruelty and neither should our State Government”, said Cate Faehrmann, executive director of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW. 





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