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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Garden netting a threat to native wildlife

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Entrapment of wildlife such as this eastern brown snake can be avoided if gardeners select wildlife friendly netting. Photo Lib Ruytenberg
Entrapment of wildlife such as this eastern brown snake can be avoided if gardeners select wildlife friendly netting. Photo Lib Ruytenberg

Last week, WIRES rescued an eastern brown snake that had been trapped in netting left on the floor of a garden workshop.

Two snake handlers were required to complete the task, one to hold the head and body of the snake and one to cut the mesh away. Fortunately the snake suffered only minor injury and will be released after some time in care.

Native animals, increasingly displaced from their natural habitat by tree clearing and extreme weather, are resorting to flowering and fruiting trees in our gardens. Tree netting is a popular way to protect fruit from wildlife, but the wrong type can be deadly.

Every year thousands of animals are injured in inappropriate backyard netting or discarded netting. It entangles birds, lizards, snakes, bats and the occasional possum. Hungry animals are easily caught in ‘bird netting’, which has a mesh size greater than 1cm square. Wildlife friendly netting should have a mesh size of less than 5mm. A quick test: If you can poke your finger through the netting space, the mesh size is too big.

If you are using netting in your garden, make sure it is the wildlife friendly type and that it is installed in a way that wildlife do not become entangled. The mesh should be white and have holes smaller than 5mm. There are three wildlife friendly brands of netting: Fruitsaver, Hailguard and Vegenet. Ideally the netting should be tightened over a frame which is clear of the foliage. Netting should be gathered and tied at the base of the tree or drawn tightly to the ground and pegged so that no wildlife can get underneath.

Netting should always be stored in closed bags and disposed of carefully. For further tips, search for ‘wildlife friendly netting’ or have a look at WIRES’ fact sheets on wildlife friendly fencing and wildlife friendly netting.

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