Horticulture

Flying fox fix sought

By Country News

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has called on the Victorian Government to address the growing flying fox problem in the region.

According to local farmers, the population of the protected species has increased significantly during recent months, with numbers in Tatura alone estimated in May to be about 10000.

Ms Sheed used her constituency question in parliament recently to ask Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford what steps her department could take to assist growers in protecting their crops from flying fox attacks.

‘‘I recently met with a group of constituents involved in the horticultural industry who are concerned about the growing number of flying foxes in my electorate that are causing significant damage to orchards across the district,’’ Ms Sheed said during Question Time on Thursday.

‘‘In the past, flying foxes have generally passed through the region, but it appears they have now taken up residence and are nightly attacking orchards, seriously damaging fruit and causing significant economic detriment to our farmers.

‘‘In 2014, the NSW Government introduced a scheme to assist farmers to protect their crops with netting and I believe such a program could be of some assistance in Victoria.

‘‘Flying foxes are listed as a vulnerable species, are an important part of the Australian environment and need to be protected and I am of the view it would also be prudent for this government to look more broadly at the cause of the current problem and develop a longer-term solution.’’