OUR SAY: Cast net wide for flying fox solution

For WIRES volunteers who dedicate their time to looking after injured wildlife, allowing orchardists to shoot flying-foxes is simply not an option to avoid crop damage.

Gazing into the innocent eyes of flying-fox pups, it can be hard to believe they could ever cause so much destruction.

But for fruit growers faced with the devastating financial blow of crop damage it’s a quite a different matter. Even though they might not be in plague proportions in Orange, for some orchardists one flying-fox is one too many. It’s an unfortunate approach to a very complex issue.

As it currently stands, licences to allow orchardists to shoot flying-foxes thankfully remain a last resort and only allow 25 to be shot per licence.

But with netting remaining an expensive and time consuming option, there is no doubt fruit growers will continue to shoot the creatures.

That’s why member for Orange Andrew Gee’s pledge to try and secure funding subsidies for netting is so important.

It’s seems a simple initiative, but has worked well in coastal areas where flying-foxes are in much higher numbers, so there is no reason the same idea would not work here.

Much of the public outcry against flying-foxes is based on the often-overblown fear of contracting lyssavirus or hendra.

While it is possible, there have been few deaths from lyssavirus in recent years and people appear to forget the dangers of other native animals such as snakes and spiders.

In the meantime many people also fail to realise what an important part of the ecosystem bats play, spreading seeds up and down the east of Australia replenishing native forests and regenerating the habitats other native animals rely on.

Let’s hope better access to netting for orchardists can allow them to reach a middle ground with wildlife advocates, so the ongoing battle against bats can cease.

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