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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
24 July 2003
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced more than $160,000 for research into practical, cost-effective, non-lethal control methods for flying-foxes, released draft flying fox guidelines for farmers, and outlined a three-year national management approach that the Commonwealth helped facilitate with the states.
The Grey-headed Flying-fox was listed as a threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 in 2001, when populations were estimated to have declined by approximately 30 per cent since 1989. It is found along the east coast from Bundaberg in Queensland to Melbourne and as far west as Warrnambool on the western Victorian coast.
“But while action is taken to help the species recover, fruit growers need to be in a position to prevent damage to their crops in coming seasons,” Dr Kemp said.
“More than $140,000 has been committed to research into finding a non-lethal and cost effective solution for fruit farmers in controlling flying-foxes.
“Projects include trialling special retractable orchard netting to prevent nets being destroyed by storms, studying diet preferences of flying-foxes, and the viability of using alternative food supplies to limit damage to fruit crops.”
The Federal Government is also calling for public comment on draft administrative guidelines designed to help fruit growers decide whether their actions need to be referred to the Commonwealth for approval under the EPBC legislation. Comments need to be received by the 15 of August 2003.
“There has been some confusion over the respective roles of the states’ and the Commonwealth’s legislation. Under Commonwealth legislation, farmers need only seek approval if they think they will have a significant impact on a listed flying fox population,” Dr Kemp said.
“In practice, if farmers operate within the bounds of State regulations and permits, they are unlikely to have such an impact. If in doubt, farmers should contact Environment Australia on 1800 803 772.”
Dr Kemp said the proposed three-year national management approach for the Grey headed Flying-fox recognised more time was needed to collect data on the species and review its national conservation status. The Commonwealth has also committed an additional $20,000 to assist with monitoring work this year.
“This national approach also acknowledges that if you comply with a State permit to shoot a specific number of Grey-headed Flying-foxes, it is not likely to have a significant impact on the species,” he said. “It includes improved population counts of Grey-headed Flying-foxes, the development of a Recovery Plan and continued trialling of non-lethal control methods by the States and the Commonwealth.”
Draft guidelines for the Grey-headed Flying fox will provide the basis for guidelines for the Spectacled Flying-fox which are now being developed.
The draft guidelines are available until closure of the public comment period (15 August) by calling free-call 1800 803 772 or from the Environment Australia website: www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/guidelines/greyheadedflyingfox/index.html.