Minister asked to halt bat shooting
TWEED bat carer Dave Pinson has called on New South Wales deputy premier and Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt to reverse a decision allowing farmers to continue to shoot the animals this year.
Mr Pinson has told Ms Tebbutt that the inhumane and cruel practice of shooting the bats, also know as flying-foxes, was ineffective in reducing crop damage, most of which was actually caused by birds and hail. Farmers had the capacity to rely on netting instead.
Some Tweed fruit growers are among the farmers understood to use guns to kill bats eating their crops.
Shooting adult bats several years ago was blamed for dozens of deaths of abandoned and starving baby bats at flying-fox roosting sites at Bray Park and Uki.
“Shooting was finally banned in Queensland recently on similar inhumane and unethical grounds,” Mr Pinson said.
Mr Pinson, who has written a book on looking after bats, told Ms Tebbutt that a theory of orchardists that shooting “scouts” would stop damage was disproved.
“There are no scouts, and the flying-foxes just keep coming in lean years,” he said.
“Shooting therefore does not work as a deterrent.
“Have you or anyone in your department actually seen first-hand the cruelty and suffering these animals are subjected to - most of which take days to die in agony from non-fatal shooting? I have.
“Have you or anyone in your department actually seen, let alone rescued and cared for, severely emaciated orphaned flying-fox pups, which take up to 10 days to die of starvation when their mothers cannot return wounded or dead from shooting parties in orchards.
Mr Pinson said that as a wildlife rehabilitator he dealt with many cases annually of abandonment because of shooting.
“I ask you to immediately halt the issue of licenses to shoot flying-foxes in orchards at night this season.”
Mr Pinson told Ms Tebbutt he agreed with North Coast Greens Party Upper House member Ian Cohen, who said Ms Tebbutt should look at alternative methods of dealing with flying-foxes.
“It is incumbent of you to protect a species listed as vulnerable to extinction. You are, after all, the minister for the environment,” Mr Cohen said.