On 21 June 2012, MP Shane Knuth (Dalrymple - KAP), introduced the Land Protection Legislation
(Flying–fox Control) Amendment Bill 2012, which makes flying foxes fauna non grata by allowing any landowner who “reasonably believes that the removal or destruction of a flying-fox is necessary to reduce the risk of disease or harm to a resident
. . . or stock” on his or her land to “destroy a flying-fox; disturb or drive away a flying-fox; or destroy or disturb a flying-fox roost”. The Explanatory Note accompanying the Bill explains that the legislation is necessary to “address the serious health risk presented by increasing concentrations of flying-fox populations in residential
areas”, and specifically notes that flying foxes carry the following viruses: Australian Bat Lyssavirus (“ABLV”) – similar to rabies; Salmonella; leptospirosis; Sars; and Hendra virus. The Explanatory Note further observes that 2 deaths from ABLV have occurred since 1996 (in other words, 1/8 of a death per year) and 4 deaths from Hendra virus have occurred since 1994 (or less than 1/4 of a death per year).
In light of these deaths, it is claimed the Bill is necessary to
“place appropriate prioritization on the risk of contracting a fatal
disease as a result of community exposure to flying foxes. . . “.
Land Protection Legislation (Flying-foxes Control) Amendment
Bill 2012 (Qld), Explanatory Notes, p 1.
The measures against flying foxes proposed in the Bill appear to be wildly disproportionate to the health risks posed by the animals. The following table, put together by Dr Carol Booth, illustrates
the point nicely:
DEATHS PER YEAR
Booth, Carol, “LAND PROTECTION LEGISLATION (FLYING-FOX CONTROL) AMENDMENT BILL 2012: A submission to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee,” (August 2012).
In other words, Queenslanders are orders of magnitude more likely to be killed by a horse, a bee,
a windmill, a dog, or a falling tree - than a flying fox. Moreover, no effort is made to actually connect deaths from ABLV to transmission by any particular species of flying fox, or any other bat
species for that matter.
The Bill amends two State statutes, the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act
2002 and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and removes all protection for flying-foxes under
these – or any other – laws. There are numerous problems with the Bill, including the fact that
the amendment to the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 is not consistent with that Act’s purpose (i.e., to reduce the impact of introduced animals regarded as
pests, rather than culling native species). Likewise, the Bill appears to conflict with Federal law
since 2 of the 5 flying fox species targeted by the Bill are protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Information regarding the Bill can be accessed at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-ofcommittees/committees/AREC/inquiries/current-inquiries/FlyingFoxBill. Comments on the proposed Bill are due by 12 September 2012. Persons wishing to lodge submissions opposing passage of the Bill may wish to refer to – and adopt – Dr Booth’s comprehensive submission in their
own submissions. Dr Booth’s submission is available on EDO-NQ’s website .