Protecting commercial crops from flying-fox damage
Flying-foxes are nomadic animals found mainly along northern and eastern Australia. They are important to native Australian ecosystems as they spread seeds and pollinate native plants.
Three species of flying-fox are found in NSW. They are the grey-headed flying-fox, the black flying-fox and the little red flying-fox. All three are protected native species. The grey-headed flying-fox is also listed as Vulnerable to extinction under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Protecting commercial crops
Full-exclusion netting is the most effective method for protecting fruit crops from flying-fox damage.
In March 2011, the NSW Government announced it will provide financial assistance to eligible orchardists in the Sydney Basin and Central Coast regions to help with the cost of purchasing and installing flying-fox exclusion netting. In conjunction with the netting arrangements, licences to shoot flying-foxes will be phased out over the next three years across NSW, except in special circumstances.
For more Information on both the subsidy program and the licence phase out see NSW Flying-fox netting subsidy program. For information on how to apply for a netting subsidy, contact the Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) ph: 02 6391 3000 or freecall: 1800 678 593.
Obtaining a licence
Shooting flying-foxes to mitigate commercial crop damage may be licensed in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
Note that the following steps are a guide only, and do not constitute licence conditions.
Landholders affected by flying-fox damage should discuss their options with the local NPWS office. If no non-lethal management alternatives are feasible, a s.120 General licence may be applied for.
Section 120 general licence application forms (ApplicationForm2011.pdf, 96 KB) can be downloaded here and are also available from NPWS offices. Licences can be submitted in person or by fax, email, or post.
Only one application per property is required to license up to two shooters to shoot a strictly limited number of flying-foxes. All potential shooters must be identified on the application form, including personal details and signatures. Should you be required to vary the names of persons intending to shoot on your property, you will be required to complete a licence variation form (LicenceVariationTemplate2011.pdf, 81 KB).
Before an application is approved, a property inspection must be undertaken by NPWS staff to confirm damage by flying-foxes. Where this is not possible within 48 hours, an interim licence may be issued. Landholders should contact your local NPWS office for information.
Shooters should have sufficient experience and be proficient at accurately shooting moving targets with a shotgun. No shooting is to proceed until the relevant licence has been approved and received by the landholder.
The landholder and licensed shooters should ensure they are familiar with, and adhere to the licence conditions, including the number and species of adult flying-fox allowed to be killed (by shooting), the Standard Operating Procedure (110877SOP.pdf, 70 KB) and the requirements to fill in and return Flying-fox Record Sheets (11874Recordsheet.pdf, 30 KB). Shooters should ensure they are able to accurately identify the different flying-fox species.
Failure to comply with licence conditions may result in prosecution. The success of future licence applications is subject to previous adherence to licence conditions.
Prior to the commencement of shooting, the landholder should ensure neighbouring properties are aware of the licence and intention to shoot flying-foxes on the licensed property.
Where the flying-fox shooting quota has been reached, and damage to flying-foxes is still occurring, a variation to the licence may be sought. This variation may allow for an additional number of flying-foxes to be killed.
Licence variation (LicenceVariationTemplate2011.pdf, 81 KB) requests must be in writing to the issuing NPWS office and accompanied by a Flying-fox Record Sheet (11874Recordsheet.pdf, 30 KB). Clear justification for the variation must be provided. An additional property inspection will take place.
Planning crop management
It is recommended that landholders attempt to net a portion of their crop each year.
Catching a disease from a flying-fox is extremely unlikely. However, flying-foxes may carry Australian bat lyssavirus. Therefore the following precautions should be undertaken:
- Thick protective gloves should be used when moving dead flying-foxes
- If you are bitten or scratched by a flying-fox, thoroughly wash the wound, apply an antiseptic solution and see your doctor immediately
- Live flying-foxes should not be handled
Documents to download
The NPWS policy on flying fox and mitigation of commercial crop damage was developed and implemented for the first time in 2001-02. The policy applies to all species of flying-fox known to occur in NSW, including the threatened grey-headed flying-fox and black flying-fox, and the little red flying-fox.
What would you like to do next?
Page last updated: 29 January 2013