The AJP will offer a fresh approach that respects flying foxes and other bats for their intrinsic worth and will protect their basic needs, instead of seeing them as ‘pests’.
Australia has both big bats and little ones; called megabats and microbats respectively.
Many people are familiar with the bigger bats, also called fruit bats and flying foxes. These are intelligent animals with strong family bonds. They travel long distances to feed at night and carry their infants with them until they are too heavy. There are 4 different kinds of fruit bats and they all play a critical role in spreading plant seeds and pollination. They eat fruit, nectar and pollen, but get pollen on their fur and spread it to other plants. When they eat fruit, they can either spit out the seeds or the seeds pass through their systems. Without bats, our native vegetation would look very different.
Bats face multiple threats from our changes to the climate. Temperatures above 42 degrees can kill the larger bats in high numbers. In 2014, over 5000 died in northern NSW and in 2017 thousands more died in another heatwave.
But windfarms also kill bats. In Australia, most bat deaths from wind turbines are to small bats, but as wind farms spread, deaths of all species are expected.
The climate and wind farm risks are in addition to the long standing risk of being killed for feeding in orchards. In a changing landscape, orchards are often an easier source of food to traditional native fruits. Particularly as native vegetation which would have been good for bats has often been cleared. For high value fruit crops, nets are increasingly common. But killing with shotguns is still used. Shotguns are terrific weapons for wounding and crippling animals, but a terrible killing tool. In the only study of its kind, dead and wounded flying foxes were collected every morning after a week of evening shooting. Of 164 animals located, 30 percent were still alive with all manner of horrific wounds. One young flying fox was located in a tree and calling for their mother for four days after being shot. Obviously, such a study couldn’t count or locate any wounded animals who could still fly.
Both Queensland and NSW allow this cruel and inefficient killing and maiming to occur.