Australia: Queensland farmers allowed to shoot flying foxes from today

Brian Williams The Courier-Mail 7 Sep 12;

QUEENSLAND will re-introduce the shooting of flying foxes today - ironically on Threatened Species Day.

Two of the species to be shot - grey headed and spectacled - are listed as vulnerable by the Federal Government.

State Environment Minister Andrew Powell will allow farmers to shoot flying foxes despite the Government's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee finding it is inhumane.

Outright kills are difficult and young left at camps by lactating mothers die slow deaths from dehydration.

In an effort to make the process as humane as possible, only farmers can apply for permits, they must use 12-gauge shotguns with heavy shot and only on stationary animals rather than those in flight.

An annual quota of 10,580 will be set for four species. The kill will be 4000 little reds, 3500 blacks, 1280 grey headed and 1800 spectacled flying foxes. Blacks and reds are common.

Mr Powell said the numbers to be shot would be about the same as when shooting was last allowed four years ago and he was confident culling could be done humanely.

Farmers could obtain a permit to shoot only if they had proved non-lethal methods had failed. Quotas would be set for individual orchards and farmers would identify species.

"Farmers are aware of which species are in their area and the department will keep an eye on this," Mr Powell said.

Conservationist Carol Booth said the decision was in marked contrast to government regulations in June to reduce cruelty towards turtles and dugong during some indigenous hunts.

Dr Booth said growers could protect crops more effectively with nets, which could cost as little as $8000 per hectare.

Stanthorpe nectarine grower Ian Mungall said netting cost about $60,000 a hectare and was not viable unless subsidised by the Government.

Growers did not want to shoot native animals but saw it as an economic necessity.