The best way to protect commercial crops from flying-foxes and other animals is to cover them with full exclusion netting or throwover netting. Using netting also protects crops from hail damage.
The wrong type of netting can be deadly to wildlife. To avoid wildlife becoming trapped in your nets, wildlife-friendly netting is recommended.
- Never use thin nylon (monofilament) netting material as this can cause serious injuries.
- Use durable knitted netting that you can't poke your finger through.
- Use white netting so wildlife can see and avoid it.
- Never throw netting loosely over trees as this can lead to entanglement, injury or death.
- Use netting that is stretched taut and held away from the tree, or 2mm woven-mesh box-shaped nets with long skirts that gather around the trunk of the tree. An alternative is to drape shade cloth over fruit.
- Regularly check that netting is secure, and that no wildlife has been trapped or hurt.
Licences to harm flying-foxes
From 1 July 2015, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment only issues licences to shoot flying-foxes as a crop protection measure if flying-fox damage to orchards is the result of special circumstances. Licences will be issued to shoot flying-foxes for the duration of the incursion, subject to strict limits.
For information about licencing visit Licences to harm flying-foxes.
An independent Flying-fox licensing review (PDF 2MB) determined that:
- shooting is ineffective when larger numbers of flying-foxes visit orchards;
- animal welfare issues that result from shooting flying-foxes are unacceptable ethically and legally; and
- shooting is a contributing factor to the decline of the grey-headed flying-fox.
Flying-fox Netting Subsidy Program
Between July 2011 and June 2017, the NSW Government implemented the Flying-fox Netting Subsidy Program to help eligible growers with the cost of installing exclusion netting as an alternative to shooting flying-foxes. The program was funded through the NSW Environmental Trust and is now closed.
The total investment of $7.1 million resulted in more than 686 hectares of fruit crop netted. This has protected crops from the impacts of flying-foxes, as well as birds and hail damage.
The Farm Innovation Fund provides low-cost loans for commercial orchardists to install netting to protect crops from damage.