A BUNDABERG orchardist has thrown his weight behind a call for the State Government to allow growers to shoot flying foxes to protect their crops and the health of their workers.
Bundaberg Orchardists’ Association vice-president Craig van Rooyen said he believed balance needed to be restored in the debate.
“I’ve got workers in danger of viruses because we can’t remove the flying foxes once they have roosted in the trees,” the lychee farmer said.
“I’m very worried about the danger to workers because they have to pick fruit from trees where there are flying foxes.”
Mr van Rooyen said his land was surrounded by farms with cattle and horses.
“Only a couple of weeks ago one of my neighbours thought he had a horse with the Hendra virus,” he said.
Mr van Rooyen said orchards were providing flying foxes with an artificial food supply, leading to an explosion in their population.
Independent Burnett MP Rob Messenger tabled a Notice of Motion in parliament yesterday morning, calling on the government to re-issue pest mitigation permits to allow farmers to shoot flying fox “scouts” while an independent scientific study was carried out examining viable non-lethal methods of control.
He said rural and regional lychee, mango and tropical stone fruit industries were in crisis.