The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats
Is the fruit you eat flying-fox friendly? The effects of orchard electrocution grids on Australian flying-foxes (Pteropus spp., Megachiroptera)
L. Martin, 2011. "Is the fruit you eat flying-fox friendly? The effects of orchard electrocution grids on Australian flying-foxes (Pteropus spp., Megachiroptera)", The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats, Bradley Law, Peggy Eby, Daniel Lunney, Lindy Lumsden
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Orchardists have used electrified grids, which kill or injure flying-foxes, to “protect” fruit crops. In recent years legal challenges to this practice have been mounted on conservation and animal cruelty grounds. A 2001 Federal Court judgement prohibited use of one 6.4km grid because it adversely affected World Heritage values. Subsequently, Queensland stopped permitting lethal grid operation - an orchardist's appeal against this was withdrawn before going to court. Two NSW orchardists using a grid pleaded guilty to charges of cruelty/ aggravated cruelty. Orchardists' responses to these cases, and difficulties in policing the many grids which remain in working order stimulated this review. It summarises evidence that grids are ineffective in preventing damage to crops; do not selectively kill flying-fox “scouts”; will significantly hasten decline of flying-fox populations; do not kill flying-foxes “instantly” but inflict extreme pain and suffering before death; injure some animals, which survive in severe pain, and cause pain/ suffering to suckling young via death of mothers. Apropos the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, grids cause (1) multiple uncontrolled acts of cruelty: multiple in that many bats are affected; uncontrolled in that there is no control on numbers of bats affected; acts of cruelty, in that animals are unreasonably and unjustifiably mutilated, maimed, terrified, exposed to excessive (electrical) heat and inflicted with pain. (2) multiple uncontrolled acts of aggravated cruelty, in causing death or serious disablement of multiple animals, some being so severely injured that it is cruel to leave them alive. Since exclusion netting provides orchardists with a wholly effective, non-lethal means of protecting crops, electrocution grid operations should be prohibited, and compliance strictly policed.