The best way to protect commercial and backyard crops from animals and hail is to cover them with full-exclusion or throw-over netting, but no one wants an animal entangled in their nets.
Every year, many animals, including flying-foxes, birds and snakes, become trapped in nets installed to protect fruit and vegetables. This creates a problem for landholders and wildlife carers who rescue these animals, which often succumb to serious injuries and death.
To avoid wildlife becoming trapped in your nets, ensure you only use netting with a mesh aperture no greater than 5 x 5 mm at full stretch. An easy way to know if netting is safe for wildlife is to check that you cannot poke your finger through the mesh.
These tips will also help you keep wildlife out of your netting:
- 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 nets with long skirts that gather around the tree's trunk. An alternative is to drape shade cloth over fruit.
- Regularly check that netting is secure and that no wildlife has been trapped or hurt.
If you find a flying-fox entangled in netting
NSW Health advises that the public should avoid direct contact with flying-foxes.
Do not handle flying-foxes unless you have been vaccinated against rabies, have undertaken training and use the proper protective equipment.
If you see a flying-fox entangled in netting, contact a licensed wildlife rescue and rehabilitation provider or use the IFAW Wildlife Rescue App to quickly find the closest licensed carer.
Finding animals caught in netting can be distressing, which is why it is ideal to choose the correct netting in the first instance.
Visit Rescuing and rehabilitating injured flying-foxes for information on licensed wildlife carers responding to flying-foxes entangled in large-aperture fruit netting.