Julie Hughes, 2002. "Survival, inquiry and sophistication in managing Grey-headed Flying-foxes", Managing the Grey-headed Flying-fox: As a Threatened Species in NSW, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney
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Humane Society International (HSI) is the largest animal protection organisation in the world. One of its campaign focuses in Australia is the Grey-headed Flying-fox. Of concern to HSI are high rates of habitat reduction for the species, and the killing that occurs where they come into conflict with humans. HSI believes the Grey-headed Flying-fox should be listed as threatened federally and in each state it occupies. The organisation has nominated the species for threatened status under various jurisdictions. Recently, HSI obtained from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service information on the licences it issues to cull flying-foxes in orchards. The licences covered a wide range of crops, and the area of crops covered under individual licences ranged from 0.5 hectares to 53 hectares. The total licensed kill for a two-month period in 1998 was 255 Little Red Flying-foxes and 1330 Grey-headed Flying-foxes. HSI believes that culling and other negative reinforcement methods are inappropriate for managing flying-fox issues. We need to become more sophisticated in our response to human-animal conflicts and less reliant on lethal methods. Our focus has been on stopping an animal's innate response to a beneficial resource, be it food or shelter. It is time to consider encouraging the responses we want through positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is efficient, effective and supportive of population conservation. In order to use positive reinforcement we need some background information, some we know all ready, much we don't know. This information will enable us to manipulate Grey-headed Flying-fox behaviour with a much greater degree of sophistication. There is a lot known about how animals learn. We need to accept that learning occurs, apply the relevant information, and develop some win-win strategies for both animals and humans in conflict situations. Grey-headed Flying-foxes are a great place to start.