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Netting | Euthanasia of flying-foxes trapped in orchard nets

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Guideline Wildlife management
Euthanasia of flying-foxes trapped in orchard nets

The purpose of this guideline is to provide information on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s compliance response in certain circumstances of flying-foxes being euthanased.


This guideline sets out the compliance action the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) will take where flying-foxes have been euthanased in certain circumstances. These circumstances are limited and defined and this policy will only apply to flying-foxes euthanised under those circumstances. Not every breach of criminal law is automatically prosecuted, and the laying of charges is discretionary. Although this policy provides some comfort for persons who must euthanase a flying-fox in the defined circumstances, EHP naturally retains the right to lay charges and prosecute to the full extent of the law where the public interest demands, for example where a flying-fox has been euthanised outside of the prescriptions of this policy.
Policy position

The most effective method of crop protection from flying-foxes is netting. However, orchard netting may trap flying-foxes, either underneath the netted enclosure, or by entanglement within the net itself. If not rescued, flying-foxes, trapped under or entangled within nets may suffer injury or distress. There is also a level of risk that such flying-foxes may transmit the Australian Bat Lyssavirus to humans via bites or scratches, creating a health and safety risk for fruit growers and pickers.

Where the taking of a flying-fox is for the purposes of euthanasing the animal to:

• prevent injury or distress to the animal; or

• to reduce human health risk from the animal

as a result of the flying-fox becoming entangled in, or trapped under orchard netting, and the process set out in this guideline is strictly followed, EHP does not consider prosecution to be in the public interest.

Application of policy

This policy position applies when a flying-fox is entangled within, or trapped under a net, only in the following circumstances and where all specific requirements set out below have been fulfilled:

• Where circumstances indicate that a flying-fox is likely to be injured or is suffering distress, or that the flying-fox poses a risk to human health or safety; and

• Where a fruit grower has taken all reasonable and practical efforts, without handling the flying-fox or exposing themselves or other persons to the risk of bites or scratches, to free the flying-fox; and

• Where a fruit grower has made reasonable efforts to first obtain the services of an appropriately inoculated wildlife carer in their area (as listed in Attachment 1) to rescue the flying-fox and the wildlife carer is unable to respond on the site within 2 hours of initial contact or attempted contact by the fruit grower.

Specific requirements
• The fruit grower may humanely euthanise a flying-fox where all of the above circumstances apply.
• The fruit grower must use a rim fire rifle with a direct head shot or a shotgun with a calibre of 12 gauge of .410, with full choke.
• The fruit grower and persons assisting the fruit grower (other than an appropriately inoculated wildlife carer) must not handle the flying-fox due to the potential contraction from the animal of the infectious disease Australian Bat Lyssavirus.
• The fruit grower must at all times ensure that risks to the health and safety of all persons involved in the activity are adequately addressed in accordance with the requirements of theWorkplace Health and Safety Act 1995.
• The fruit grower must be able to demonstrate that a reasonable attempt was made to contact an appropriately inoculated wildlife carer in their area (refer Attachment 1) to rescue the flying-fox prior to euthanasing the flying-fox.
• The fruit grower must complete details of each incident of a flying-fox being euthanised in accord with the attached Record of euthanasia form within 24 hours of the animal being euthanised.
• The fruit grower must submit a copy of the completed Record of euthanasia (refer Attachment 2) form to EHP at the end of each fruit growing season, and not later than 1 May of each year. The Record of euthanasia must also be made available to an officer of EHP at any other time upon request.
• Euthanased flying-foxes are to be disposed of in a safe manner, such as by burial.



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BatsRule!: Netting | Euthanasia of flying-foxes trapped in orchard nets
Netting | Euthanasia of flying-foxes trapped in orchard nets
Netting | Euthanasia of flying-foxes trapped in orchard nets
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