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Canberra urged to block flying fox relocation: Democrats uncover litany of flaws.

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Senator Lyn Allison Australian Democrats Senator for Victoria 23 January 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/019

Canberra urged to block flying fox relocation Democrats uncover litany of flaws The Australian Democrats have written to the Federal Government urging it to intervene in the Victorian Government’s planned ‘relocation’ of Grey-Headed Flying-foxes from Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens to Horseshoe Bend in Ivanhoe.

Democrats’ Senator for Victoria, Senator Lyn Allison, said, “The Federal Environment Minister must disallow the action, using his powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.”

Senator Allison said, “Listing of Grey-Headed Flying-foxes as vulnerable should mean they can no longer be killed, forcibly moved or otherwise interfered with, without the approval of Dr Kemp.”

Senator Allison questioned the logic of the proposed move saying experts in the field regard it as doomed to failure because: • None of the flying-fox relocation attempts elsewhere have yet succeeded. • Little is understood about the choice of roosting site by the species but they are known

to return to the site of their birth. • There is no evidence to suggest that 500 captive wild animals will attract others from the Botanic Gardens. In fact, experience and commonsense suggests the opposite. • Feeding will be a logistics nightmare. Each animal will require protein supplement,

fresh water daily and 400-500 grams of chopped fresh fruit per night. Their preferred food is nectar, which would be impossible to collect in the necessary quantity.

Senator Allison said the proposal would put added stress on the species: • The capture and confinement away from the main roosting colony will be enormously stressful, interfering with their complex hierarchical social structure. • Extreme stress can cause the mothers to lose their milk and separation of mothers and

babies would lead to the death of the babies. • Caged flying-foxes, accustomed to around 50km of flight per night, will lose muscle tone and be less likely to survive after release. • Experience in wildlife refuges shows that no more than two males can be confined

together in a single cage.

“Uprooting the colony to Horseshoe Bend is not a workable solution. Extending the fern gully with palms is an idea that should be tried and could minimise damage to trees. The Botanic Gardens management could also learn from the Sydney experience and concentrate on dissuading roosting in vulnerable trees instead of continuing their hapless intervention with nature,” Senator Allison concluded.

Further Information: John Derry 03 9416 1880 or 0408 056 167