Fruit bats now in gun sights
THE newly elected State Government has announced it will overturn the ban on damage mitigation permits that allowed fruitgrowers to shoot flying foxes.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said it was a move to protect the livelihoods of fruit growers statewide, whose crops suffered millions of dollars damage from the bats.
Mr Cripps said the damage mitigation permits would be issued to farmers who had been unsuccessful at deterring bats with non-lethal methods such as lights or netting, in a bid to protect industries and employment in regional Queensland.
The permits had been controversially discontinued by the previous state government in 2008, after claims that it was inhumane to shoot the animals.
The announcement has been welcomed in towns like Gayndah, where hundreds of thousands of bats made life misery for residents by roosting in the main street.
"Our council is having success using lights, smoke and noise, and have been able to deter the little red flying foxes," North Burnett Mayor Joy Jensen said.
"How we go in the future remains to be seen, but it is also a much-needed option if fruit-growers have to deal with plague proportions."
Cr Jensen said while the town had been given a reprieve from the bats, citrus and fruit farmers across the district had suffered from crop losses and were likely to take up the permits.
"It is not being promoted as a first resort to shoot them," she said.
"It won't be a case of culling them - they would shoot only the scouts. The fruit-growers are the priority."