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Govt softens stance on flying foxes

OUTFOXED: A flying fox caught in netting over fruit trees. Lethal damage mitigation measures will be permitted as an “absolute last resort”.
OUTFOXED: A flying fox caught in netting over fruit trees. Lethal damage mitigation measures will be permitted as an “absolute last resort”. Sarah Curran

FRUITGROWERS will be allowed to cull limited numbers of flying foxes for crop protection - but only if all other measures fail to do the job, the State Government has announced.

Lethal damage mitigation measures will be re-introduced and will aim to meet similar quotas as those set by the previous Labor Government in 2008.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell said damage mitigation permits would only be issued as an "absolute last resort".

"This is not 'open season' on flying foxes. These permits will only be issued to growers who can show that they have tried unsuccessfully to use non-lethal means of moving flying foxes away from their crops," Mr Powell said.

"This is about giving greater control to farmers over managing their crops while striking a balance with animal welfare and conservation.

"These new laws have been developed with input from growers, conservationists and animal welfare advocates and I'm confident we've got the balance right."

Mr Powell said the legislative framework made sure ecological sustainability and welfare standards were met, by including a code of practice identifying how shooting flying foxes was to occur.

"The code sets out a range of things that growers must do when shooting flying foxes to make sure the animals are killed humanely," he said.

"It sets strict requirements that growers must meet to be eligible for a permit, including that they have previously tried, and will continue to use, non-harmful methods of deterring flying foxes.

"A limited quota on each species has also been put in place and agreed by the Commonwealth Government to ensure there will be no impact on the long-term survival of the four flying fox species that can damage crops."

The new code is available at ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/livingwith/flying foxes/damage-mitigation-permits.html, along with necessary permit application forms, returns of operation and a fact sheet.

Topics:  flying foxes horticulture