Should Byron Council remove all barbed wire from its land and encourage other local landowners to do the same, in order to protect native wildlife?
This is the question coming before this Thursday’s meeting, via a motion to develop a barbed wire management policy for the Shire.
Put forward by Independent Councillor Cate Coorey, the motion proposes a range of measures in a bid to save the hundreds of flying foxes, birds and possums that die, or are seriously injured, after being caught in local barbed wire fencing each year.
‘The Australian Wildlife Hospital (AWH) treated over 80 different species found caught on barbed-wire fences in the last three years’, Cr Coorey said.
‘Out of over 800 individual animals, half were euthanised immediately, and over half were flying foxes, around 80 per cent of which died’.
‘At night, barbed-wire fencing becomes invisible. Flying foxes can hit the fencing at speed and twist and fight the wire, trying to chew their way out, resulting in nightmare injuries.’
Many of these deaths and injuries were preventable, Cr Coorey said.
‘In many cases, barbed wire does not perform an essential function, and it could be replaced by other types of fencing, and where it is essential, relatively simple measures could reduce its impact,’ she said.
In addition to removing all Council-owned barbed wire, the motion proposes a freeze on any further barbed wire installation on Council land, and adapting existing Council fencing to remove dangers to wildlife.
It also proposes an information and education program developed to help local landowners understand the impacts of barbed wire on native fauna, and provide ideas for alternative solutions.
Yet another councillor seeking re-election on December 4, Cr Alan Hunter, claims the plan is frivolous given such uncertain times.
He said in a press release, ‘We need to know how many animals are affected and over what time in our Shire, not Australia, so the costs can be measured more accurately’.
‘Cr Coorey’s agenda item is nothing more than an ill-informed grab at making herself relevant in a time when we all need to be thinking about keeping businesses alive, so they can employ locals and keep our economy going’.
Council staff oppose the plan, at least in the short-to-medium term.
‘The development of a Barbed Wire Policy and an information and education program for the community about barbed wire, although with merit, is resource intensive and not a planned activity for staff for FY 21/22’, Council’s Director of Sustainable Development and Economy, Shanon Burt, said.
‘Providing information and education to the community about this issue is something the Biodiversity and Agricultural Team could do informally, via the Brunswick Valley Landcare newsletter and the Farming Cluster Group network and social media’.