Anger over flying fox control plan as LNP announces shooting policy

THE RSPCA and about 40 animal and conservation groups say an LNP plan to reintroduce shooting and electrocution of native flying foxes is a return to the dark ages.

They have pledged to fight the move, which is aimed at helping farmers reduce damage to orchards. It is likely to be challenged in court on cruelty grounds, with electrocution having been banned for a decade and shooting for four years.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said his organisation remained apolitical but strongly opposed the policy.

"The RSPCA has advised Queensland governments that electrocution and shooting of flying foxes is inhumane," Mr Beatty said. "...Most Queenslanders abhor cruelty and would oppose the use of inhumane methods for crop protection.

"We've been trying to talk to (LNP Leader) Campbell Newman about this ... but his office tells us he's too busy to be talking to organisations such as ours."

Opposition agriculture spokesman Andrew Cripps told Parliament last year the LNP would continue low interest loans for bat netting and would encourage farmers to use non-lethal methods.

"...An LNP government will reintroduce damage mitigation permits to farmers to use lethal deterrent where non-lethal deterrent have failed," Mr Cripps said.

Opposition environment spokesman Andrew Powell said in a statement the policy balanced conservation with public health and agricultural production.

An LNP Government will work with councils and landholders affected by nuisance colonies of flying foxes to ensure human health and agricultural productivity are not adversely affected," he said. "An LNP Government will overhaul the damage mitigation permit system in relation to moving bat colonies."

Shooting is deemed cruel because of a high rate of wounding. A 2009 study found that of 146 bats shot, 44 were wounded and would have died slowly and the young of 41 lactating females left in roosts also would have died from dehydration and starvation.

Wildlife Preservation Society spokesman Des Boyland said governments should help nationally threatened species such as spectacled and grey-headed flying-foxes, not shoot them, and if the LNP wanted to ease problems for farmers, they could look at subsidising netting.

Bats Conservation and Rescue president Louise Saunders said her organisation rehabilitated nearly 1000 of the tree pollinators a year and it would be bitterly disappointing to see killing reintroduced.

It was irrational that possums, rats and birds did substantial damage to fruiting crops yet flying foxes received disproportionate blame.

Queensland Conservation spokeswoman Carol Booth said if the ban was overturned, thousands of animal would be killed annually.
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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Anger over flying fox control plan as LNP announces shooting policy
Anger over flying fox control plan as LNP announces shooting policy
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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