Funding to deal with flying foxes

WHILE the New South Wales Government has started taking measures to ensure farmers are protected against flying foxes in time for next season, Granite Belt orchardist Ugo Tomasel said the Queensland Government had not done a thing.

“I am a bit lost as to what they are doing,” he said.

“The only thing they seem to do is put restrictions on us.

“At the end of the day, flying foxes are a huge issue for us and if we can't use traditional methods to control them, they need to come up with something else.”

Mr Tomasel's comments came after NSW Minister for the Environment Robyn Parker announced $5 million in funding to assist orchardists to install exclusion netting in the Sydney Basin and on the Central Coast to protect their crops from flying foxes.

Eligible farmers will be able to apply for a subsidy of up to 50% of the cost of installing netting – capped at $20,000 per hectare with the funds delivered through the Rural Assistance Authority.

While Mr Tomasel questioned how far $5 million dollars would go, he said it was more than what Queensland farmers were getting.

“We are getting nothing,” he said.

“And the flying fox problem is far worse here in Queensland than it is in New South Wales.

“I think it's a good move that should be done, and it's good to see some proactive action being put in solving a problem.”rural

This year tens of thousands of flying foxes set up camp on a Cottonvale property, leaving each night to feed on apples and stone fruit from orchards in the area, obliterating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of produce.

Because the native animals are a protected species, farmers were unable to shoot them or move them on.

But even if the Queensland State Government does pursue a similar course of action to its NSW counterpart, it would be of little comfort to the people of Allora who have a camp of flying foxes in their town all year round – where the concern is more to do with the potential for the furry critters to spread the Hendra and lyssa viruses.

Four Queensland vets have died from the Hendra virus, spread indirectly to humans from flying foxes through horses.

While some residents continue to try to move the animals on with music and loud noise, most have resigned themselves to the fact the animals are there to stay.

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