Monday, November 2, 2009

Flying Fox Update

We are hearing that he Qld Government have issued a Permit for flying foxes to be "relocated", by using a helicopter to hover over them and blow them from the trees, has been issued to the Charters Towers Council. However the Permit only covers the black flying fox, and as there are red flying foxes living in the colony, the Council fortunately can't progress the Permit. The former Charters Towers City Council was granted several damage mitigation permits to remove the flying foxes from the urban area, but dispersal to a location on the outskirts of town has always failed. But issuing a Permit to use helicopters to blow the flying foxes away is an appalling act of bad judgement. There are other areas where local bat-hating residents want to move the flying foxes on, and they will wan't to use choppers now. But ...the Queensland Labor Government...what else can we expect.....WPAA

Flying foxes are being shot for food at Woodend in Ipswich and Hemmant in Brisbane's eastern suburbs, say bat carers. Bat Care Queensland spokeswoman Louise Saunders yesterday said while flying foxes were a major food for many cultures, discharging firearms in built-up areas was illegal and flying fox numbers were threatened. Sustainability Minister Kate Jones yesterday ordered an investigation into the allegations and said anyone found guilty of killing flying foxes faced a $10,000 fine. Ms Saunders said people undertaking counts at the roosts had reported people of Polynesian descent were involved. `I understand absolutely that there are cultural issues here,'' she said. ``This is not about anyone's heritage but about seeing that one of the most important mammals in our environment is able to survive. ``It's probably just a situation where people do not realise that shooting in a built-up area is illegal and taking wildlife if you are not indigenous is also illegal.'' Logan Samoa Advisory Council treasurer Anne Siakisini said she did not know of anyone who had eaten flying foxes . * Courier Mail

Mackay has been granted permission to remove a flying fox colony disturbing residents. Mackay Regional Council officers will be allowed to use non-lethal methods, including fogging trees, loud noise and bright lights. Describing the animals as a nuisance to the community, Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said yesterday she approved the permit so long as no practices were harmful to the species. Residents at North Eton near Mackay had threatened to shoot flying foxes after Hendra virus-related health scares. In November 2007, more than 20 of the protected creatures were shot and bludgeoned to death at the rural-residential community. ``While flying foxes play an important pollinating role . . . they can be a nuisance for residents,'' Ms Jones said. ``The department has carefully weighed up these exceptional circumstances.'' Bat Care Brisbane spokeswoman Louise Saunders yesterday said it was sad that people could not tolerate the natural environment. ``I haven't seen the North Eton colony . . . but I live 100m from a bat colony and it's no problem at all,'' Ms Saunders said. ``Often you find with these things, it's just a handful of people complaining.'' * Courier Mail

The NSW State Government began issuing licences for the shooting of flying foxes this week, even though its own advisory panel warns that shooting the animals breaches animal cruelty laws. The Government's new shooting protocols, finalised this week, say hunters must find and kill baby bats with a blunt instrument if their mothers are shot to prevent them dying a lingering death. NSW is now the only state to permit bat shooting after Queensland banned it last year. The NSW Farmers Association says fruit growers must protect their crops from foraging bats. A coalition of 60 environment groups is seeking a ban. "The animal welfare issues that result from shooting as a method of mitigating crop damage caused by flying foxes are unacceptable ethically and legally," the Government's advisory panel concluded. It also found that "shooting is ineffective" when larger numbers of flying foxes visit orchards.

The concern is that shotgun pellets scatter widely, wounding many bats but killing only a few. Alexia Wellbelove, a spokeswoman for Humane Society International, said: "What the NSW Government is doing is nothing less than sanctioning animal cruelty." The Government said shooting was not a perfect solution but animal welfare had to be balanced against the need to protect crops from bats. "It will continue this year as an interim measure," said Simon Smith, the Environment Department's deputy director-general. "We're in the process of looking at the long-term solution, which includes evaluating the cost of providing orchards with nets." *SMH

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