IUCN resolution against culling of wild bat populations

Triggered by the appalling cull of globally threatened Mauritian flying foxes (Pteropus niger) in 2015 and 2016, a resolution was submitted to, and adopted during, the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

The resolution is entitled Protection of Wild Bats from Culling Programmes and given in full below due to its timely and outstanding relevance for the conservation of bats. Especially the last points are worth reading!

This is particularly relevant in Africa where many bat colonies face persecution due to widespread, and largely unfounded, fear of bats spreading diseases.

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ACKNOWLEDGING that bats, over one fifth of terrestrial mammals, are among the most endangered species;

AWARE of alarming declines in bat populations globally, due to anthropogenic pressures such as habitat degradation, fragmentation and destruction, roost disturbance, climate change, bushmeat trade, disease and a history of persecution;

ACKNOWLEDGING that bats are long-lived mammals where females usually give birth to one young per year, reproductive rates are low and populations slow to recover from disturbance and declines;

RECOGNISING that bats have an essential role in the natural world, as insect predators and, through their seed dispersal and pollination services, are crucial to the regeneration of forests and to agriculture as a result of critical relationships with wild food crops such as cashew and durian;

FURTHER RECOGNISING that ecosystem services offered by bats are globally worth billions of US dollars annually, but are rarely evaluated or considered in natural capital accounts and policy decisions;

MINDFUL that bats remain an extremely misunderstood group of species, with many negative perceptions driving their persecution;

CONCERNED that misinformation about bats causing economic damage and transmitting diseases is exacerbating the human-bat conflict, and that lack of institutional and enforcement capacity (and willingness) are impacting bats in many regions;

ALARMED that due to perceived negative impacts on fruit harvests and human health, governments are legalising, condoning and implementing culling of bats, without a supporting scientific basis;

CONSCIOUS that culls of bats to mitigate disease may amplify the risk to human populations through increased contact rates of people with bats, changes in the dynamics of disease transmissions among bats, and stress-related increases in disease transmission;

DEEPLY CONCERNED that the loss or decline of bats has a negative impact on other species, and the critical ecosystem services they provide; and

RECOGNISING IUCN’s interventions to avert government culling of wild bat populations;

The World Conservation Congress, at its session in Hawai‘i, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016:

1. CALLS ON the Director General, the Species Survival Commission and the World Commission on Protected Areas, to provide technical and scientific support to governments and other agencies to ensure evidence-based approaches for the management of sustainable bat populations;

2. CALLS ON all IUCN State Members to allocate funding for the protection of bats and to provide incentives for conservation, adequate legislation and deterrent penalties to achieve this goal;

3. CALLS ON all IUCN Members to promote education about bats in order to dispel myths and human negativity towards bats and to foster understanding and co-habitation with people;

4. URGES governments to seek non-lethal solutions/mitigation measures to conflicts between humans and bats, as part of a strategy that combines scientific research on bat ecology and ecosystem services, as well as on life-history characteristics that support population models; and URGES governments to not authorise or sanction culls of wild bat populations unless there is peer-reviewed evidence of the significant impact of bats on food security or public health, all non-lethal solutions have been exhausted, there is clear scientific evidence and opinion that a cull will resolve the issue and not threaten species survival, and any decision to authorise a cull is underpinned by rigorous scientific evidence regarding the population structure and dynamics of the species and understanding of the impact of the proposed cull.

Posted by jakob jakob, February 24, 2017 13:00

Comments

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Let's hope this resonates widely!

Posted by matthias over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Fantastic!

Posted by ali_bat over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks for the feed-back, @matthias and @ali_bat, I hope this makes a difference. Just learned from a member of the Eidolon Monitoring Network that roost trees in Lamin, The Gambia, have been cut down.

Posted by jakob over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Sad to hear that Jakob, but at least with the network you've set up, it's possible to know about these events and get an overall picture of what's happening across the distribution

Posted by ali_bat over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Here was great scientific evidence to stop the bat culling conducted in Mauritius "In recent years the extent to which fruit bats take lychees in comparison to other fruit eaters (such as the Ring-necked Parakeet, Common Mynah, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and rats) has been assessed. The overall results show in 2015/16 fruiting season, bats were responsible for around 15% of damage to the commercial fruits. Birds may contribute another 6.5% of damage while majority of fruits are lost due to natural fall and over ripening on the tree. The study also shows that bats eat much less fruit from smaller trees (< 6 m) although the trees will still lose much of the fruit to birds. "

Alas, the cull still happened because the majority of people do not want scientific reasoning. Very well written Jakob :) hope it has a fruitful impact.

Posted by rinahart169 over 2 years ago (Flag)
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Here's a timely publication on the issue, which strangely doesn't reference the IUCN resolution:

Vincenot CE, Florens FBV, Kingston T. 2017. Can we protect island flying foxes? Science 355: 1368-1370. (available via ResearchGate )

New Scientist Flying foxes are facing extinction on islands across the world

Posted by jakob over 2 years ago (Flag)

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