Flying-fox depredation of cultivated fruit in eastern Australia has been contentious since early settlement and was often addressed by shooting flying-foxes. However, shooting is ineffective as a crop protection measure and has serious animal welfare impacts. Exclusion netting is considered the most reliable and humane method of protecting commercial crops from flying-foxes and other animals. From 2011 to 2017, the New South Wales (NSW) Government implemented the Flying-fox Netting Subsidy Program to subsidise fruit growers’ costs of installing exclusion netting on orchards, accompanied by the gradual phase out of legal shooting of flying-foxes in NSW. The AUD$7.1 million scheme was designed to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing exclusion netting, capped at AUD$20,000 per hectare. The subsidy program was initially funded for AUD$5 million and restricted to full-canopy exclusion netting for orchards situated in the Sydney Basin and Central Coast but later expanded to the remainder of NSW and also expanded to subsidise throw-over netting and upgrades of non-complaint netting, with an additional investment of AUD$2.1 million. As a result, subsidies achieved netting of 182 hectares of crops in the Sydney Basin and Central Coast and 503 hectares in the remainder of NSW. The number of shooting licences granted by the NSW Government in growing seasons following the subsidy program were substantially lower than previous growing seasons and flying-foxes were reported shot at a lower rate following the subsidy program compared to previous growing seasons. These patterns suggest fruit growers’ diminishing reliance on using shooting as a crop protection measure in the years leading up to the NSW Government phasing out legal shooting of flying-foxes in June 2021.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.