Newman puts flying fox cull back in farmers hands

Environmental groups are up in arms after Queensland's new LNP Government announced it will once again allow farmers to shoot flying foxes.

That practise was banned four years ago, but Campbell Newman's recently-installed Government says it will legalise shooting if non-lethal methods of controlling the bats fail.

Gayndah, west of Maryborough, prides itself on its thriving citrus industry but has also recently become renowned for something else: the flying foxes that have made the area in and around the town their home.

Golden Orange Hotel Motel co-owner Lorraine Mogg says something has to be done.

"They came into town about three years ago," she said.

"Within two months, three months, we had 300,000 bats here. Nobody would help us.

"The smell of them was just atrocious."

Ms Mogg's business partner, Dennis Wilson, says non-lethal methods have been implemented by the council and farmers, yet nothing has moved the flying foxes away permanently.

He says that is hurting the rural industries in and around Gayndah.

"Especially the citrus trees, if they get in there and start pummelling the fruit, that's a huge part of the economic success of this town," he said.

"More so, we have a lot of cattle owners around here and they muster with horses.

"Now, the Hendra virus and horses go hand in hand."

In 2008, the Queensland Labor government announced it would not be issuing new damage mitigation permits following a finding that shooting flying foxes is inhumane.

In the past, those permits had allowed the shooting of flying foxes for control.

Now the LNP Government is promising to put the law into farmers' hands.

"If you've tried to get rid of the flying foxes in non-lethal method, we will issue damage mitigation permits," Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said.

"Sometimes you have to do it to protect livelihoods.

"And we're certainly willing to do it to protect industries and employment in regional and rural Queensland."
'Suite' of control practices

That commitment is welcome news at the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Cooperative.

That group represents more than 400 farmers in the $400 million farm gate industry in the Bundaberg district in southern Queensland.

"In the past, there's been a suite of practices that growers have implemented on their orchard," executive officer Peter Hockings said.

"First and foremost, there's obviously damage mitigation permits, then there's lighting infrastructure, bird fright and netting of different descriptions."

Mr Hockings said some non-lethal methods had worked to some extent, but never effectively on their own.

"As an industry we're pushing for a suite of control practices, both non-lethal and damage mitigation permits," he said.

But the Queensland Conservation Council's Dr Carol Booth says shooting flying foxes is always inhumane.

"We're very concerned by this plan to return to primitive and inhumane methods of crop protection," she said.

Dr Booth says flying foxes are here to stay and farmers already have appropriate methods of keeping them away from crops.

"Most fruit damage occurs when flying foxes are hungry," she said.

"They know where the orchards are, they will target them.

"There's nothing apart from nets that will protect orchards when flying foxes are suffering food shortages elsewhere." / qld-farmers-allowed-to-shoot-bats-again


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BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats: Newman puts flying fox cull back in farmers hands
Newman puts flying fox cull back in farmers hands
BATS. Megabats, Flying-foxes, Fruit bats and Microbats
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