The recommended types of wildlife friendly fruit netting to prevent injury to wildlife
Wildlife, particularly birds & flying fruit bats love sampling your fruit trees – it is a convenient food source, however it is also a deadly risk. Getting caught in the netting on your trees can cut off circulation, strangle them and just the stress of being trapped can kill a lot of wildlife. It is understandable that you must protect your fruit trees or orchard, particularly if it is your livelihood. There are ways to manage better so you and native wildlife can live more harmoniously together. There are some fantastic types of wildlife friendly netting that pass the ‘finger’ test (you should not be able to pass your finger through the holes). Read on to investigate & protect your trees whilst saving wildlife as well.
WE ONLY RECOMMEND NETS THAT PASS THE ‘FINGER TEST’
(you cannot poke your finger through)
View our videos on Youtube and Vimeo showing 3 different styles of netting.
Download.pdf our Wildlife Friendly Netting brochure (1.2MB)
Every year thousands of animals are injured in inappropriate netting of back yard fruit trees, or discarded netting. It entangles birds, lizards, snakes, bats and the occasional possum. The netting cuts their mouths to ribbons as they try to bite themselves free, and wraps so tightly around them that circulation is cut off and tissue dies, days or even weeks later. The animals die of thirst, starvation, strangulation or outright pain and fear in the nets. Many of those ‘rescued’ die later as a result of secondary infection, or are euthanased because they are unreleasable. The nets go on killing year after year even when they have become tattered to the point they are no longer protecting fruit. Many landowners leave fruit to fall on the ground and rot, or the fruit are of such poor quality they do not eat them anyway – yet the nets remain killing wildlife.
Netting should always be disposed of carefully as animals such as snakes and lizards are very easily trapped when it is left lying on the ground. They are like ghost nets in the ocean, discarded fishing nets that trap and kill marine life.
1.A total ban from import/sale of all monofilament bird netting (thin nylon type) Australia wide.
2.A large education campaign around the dangers of all bird netting with its eventual removal from sale. We welcome good advice on the best means of disposal.
3.Mandatory labeling of backyard fruit trees at point of sale alerting the public to the dangers of using netting to protect backyard fruit trees and their responsibilities to avoid injuring wildlife.
4.Mandatory labeling of all netting at point of sale, showing correct methods of using netting.
5.Translations of correct netting methods to be made in several languages and warnings of the legalities and penalties of harming wildlife must be included in these translations.
6.We encourage you to:
1. Complain about bird netting of any type every time you see it on sale. Ask stores to stock wildlife friendly fruit netting.
2. Do not try to rescue the animal yourself unless you are an experienced handler, especially for bats. In Queensland, call 1300 ANIMAL, the RSPCA 24 hour hotline.
HELP US PLEASE
We are compiling a list of animals caught in netting. Please let us know if you can add to this list, and send photos. We really appreciate high res photos, as large a file size as possible. This means they can be used in print media. We are approached regularly for photos for magazine articles.
The majority (probably 50% of all rescues) would be Eastern Brown Snakes. Monofilament netting used over fruit trees and vegetable gardens are the worst offenders. One thing most people fail to consider is that with the high incidence rate of Eastern Brown Snake entanglement comes a better than normal risk of being bitten by this highly venomous species. Instead of being able to move away freely as they normally would they are restrained and intimidated to a point where an unsuspecting person could easily walk past it and be bitten. I know of two cases where bites have occurred around backyard vegetable gardens due to entanglement.
On average we would remove around 40 – 50 snakes a year from mesh nets and around 10 lizards.
Other species I have taken from monofilament mesh include;
Common Tree Frog (Litoria carulea)
Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
“Reptiles, particularly snakes are regularly caught in netting. It is particularly brutal because they twist to free themselves and every twist of course only tightens the netting until it cuts into them. If they aren’t rescued quickly the trauma becomes flyblown and they are simply eaten alive. Also if they are in the sun they have no way to regulate their temperature. The whole process is horrific and it’s important for phone coordinators to always ask callers if the animal is in the sun. If the reptile is trapped in any way (netting or otherwise) callers are asked to block the sun; putting a damp towel over them is good but if people don’t feel ok about that they can just block the sun with an object – umbrella or whatever.” Julie McConnell
The Magpie (left) has discarded netting caught on its feet. Photo: Julie McConnell
Fruit Saver are fitted fruit tree nets to protect fruit against fruit fly, birds, bats, possums and rats. They are box-shaped with a long skirt that gathers around the trunk of the tree. They come is 2 sizes and are made from 2mm woven mesh that gives a 15% shade factor.
TO FIT A FRUIT SAVER NET OVER YOUR TREE – watch our youtube video
You need two brooms or long poles (preferably plastic/wood), a length of twine and two people.
•Prune your tree. The smaller net suits a canopy that is about 1.8 metres high and 1.5 metre diameter, the larger net 2.3 metres high and
•Lay the net out flat on the ground, with the seamed top/roof furthest away from the tree trunk. Make sure the overlapped opening is uppermost.
•Holding the overlapped opening apart by its bottom corners, each person inserts a broom handle inside the net and into each of the two front corners of the net.
•Lift the net high with the broom handles and walk it over the canopy with one person on each side of the tree.
•Make sure the skirt of the net is at the same length all round, then just gather the net around the trunk of the tree and secure with twine.
ALL TYPES OF BIRD NETTING HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO KILL WILDLIFE, WHETHER IT IS BLACK, WHITE, MONOFILAMENT OR KNITTED.
Unfortunately bird netting is readily available to backyard fruit growers through the many hardware stores, nurseries, produce stores and cheap outlets. These deadly products, available in black, green and white, lack any labeling for their correct use and potential danger to wildlife.
WILDLIFE FRIENDLY NETS
There are 2 ways to protect your backyard fruit and wildlife.
1. Protect the whole tree. We only recommend Fruit Saver nets, Hail Guard or Vege Net, all nets that pass ‘the finger test’.
2. Protect individual fruit. Search online for ‘fruit netting bags’, look for Green Harvest and the Native Shop
• Use an umbrella as a frame to support netting. Photo shows bird netting but needs to be replaced with Hail Guard, and secured well around the trunk of the tree.
• Put a pot over a papaw, slit the pot up the side and make a hole for the stem.
• Using chicken wire over a frame (the cylinder)
• Using Hail Guard or Vege Net over a polypipe frame (the dome)