A Call To Arms To End Dangerous Netting in NSW

Dear NSW Batfriends

Each year backyard fruit tree netting entanglement takes a heavy toll of flying foxes and birds. There are wildlife `safe` types of netting and only these should be legal to use.

Netting should be a maximum weave of 5mm x 5mm fully stretched, or less. For example flywire or mozzie netting exceed this requirement and are safe as is Hailguard netting, fruit bags or washing bags zipped over fruit.

It is time for a renewed push on achieving Victorian-style wildlife safe netting regulations in NSW as it has many more bats, and rescues, than Victoria. A vital element of achieving this advance is getting the attention of the office of the NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders. Therefore I’d like to ask as many of you as possible write to the Minister’s office and call for wildlife safe “backyard” fruit tree netting regulations under the NSW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.  Victoria introduced netting regulations on September 1, 2021 and has already seen a dip in the number of flying fox netting rescues (see quote below).

The Hon. Dugald Saunders MP

Minister for Agriculture
GPO Box 5341

Please see below and pick out one or two ideas as the focus of your letter (or your own). Letters do not have to be long and may even be just a card or note. What matters is the volume of correspondence received by the office staffers on this subject. It is also possible to send a message via the Minister`s website but personally I think snail mail has a greater impact.    https://www.nsw.gov.au/nsw-government/ministers/minister-agriculture-western-nsw

There is a NSW election early next year so the time is now for action! We will not succeed for the bats if we are silent and invisible so please write or email (or phone 8574 5260) supporting wildlife safe regulations.

Below are a few ideas to write on. Please do not cut and paste and only use one or two and your own words. If we can achieve regulation they will deliver for our friends every night for decades and decades. I have included a couple of recent quotes at the end from bat rescuers.

1. Victorian enacted wildlife safe netting regulation

ns on Sept 1, 2021 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations:  – A safe net has a mesh size of 5mm x 5mm or less.  

2. ACT has committed to wildlife safe netting regulations in 2023

3. NSW wildlife rescue services undertake around 1000 call-outs for backyard fruit tree netting entanglements each year. The unreported level of death and entanglement adds to this. 

4. Netting Regs apply to sales (remove unsafe nets from shelves on online) and use (reduce non-compliant nets purchased online from Ebay etc “I can’t use it so won’t buy it”.

5. Netting Regs apply only to domestic or “backyard” fruit trees. They do not apply to commercial growers with an ABN. Modern orchards already use wildlife friendly netting “canopies”.

6. The great majority 80% + of netting entanglements occur in ordinary suburban “backyards”.

7. 80% + of wildlife rescuers are volunteer women. The Gov`t relies on them as wildlife officers, RSPCA and council animal management officers do not rescue bats or other wildlife. 

8. Regulations reduce the impost and burden on rescuers – they show `Best Efforts` by Gov`t to respect and not-exploit the volunteer (female) wildlife rescue workforce.

9. Regulations provide a level commercial playing field for all.

10. Unlike education alone netting regulations prevent business and consumers back-sliding in future. 

11. Regulation save thousands of indigenous wildlife prolonged suffering and death – Regulation to Wildlife Safe Netting shows a `Care for Country`.

12. Safety: By removing dangerous netting the regulations reduce the risk of wildlife bite and scratch to the public. They also reduce falls and injury of rescuers.

13. By removing dangerous netting regulations reduce the mental health and financial burden on wildlife rescuers and carers.

14. Netting rescue of entangled flying foxes require specialist Lyssavirus vaccinated rescuers – in peak season the netting rescues are unrelenting year-in-year out*. The toll on family is serious.

15. Netting regulations enforcement can be passive. They do not require officers to “hunt out” illegal nets. They only need respond to a report made by a rescuer or member of public.

16. A grace period can apply. In Victoria this was six months prior to regulation commencement. No complaints were made by the public. Saving wildlife is very popular.

17. Most major hardware and other netting suppliers businesses already sell a variety of wildlife safe netting. Regulations permanently prevent the sale of unsafe-nets but allow safe nets.

18. Hardware chains with non-compliant nets in stock (a decreasing number) may “sell out” of product in Perth or Tasmania where there are no flying fox species.

19. Education of many types on using safe netting has been tried for forty years in NSW and QLD with overall poor outcomes. Only regulation can deliver a sustained result. 

20. The Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is IUCN listed as endangered. There is a real possibility it won’t survive this century. Every preventable death is totally unacceptable.  

21. It is now illegal in Victoria (POCTA REGs Division 2, 13 (1-3) to Use, Sell or Advertise for Sale a Non-compliant Net.

*Shortly before she died this year Sydney friend and veteran bat rescuer and FFS `Flying Fox Supporters` founder Jillian Snell emailed me about her latest case:

I collected a middle-aged male flying fox from netting in Eastwood, a sweet fellow but highly stressed. I didn’t think his wings would break down from netting constriction so had hope for him…sadly he died a few days later from tissue breakdown and kidney damage caused by a long period of excessive exertion/struggle during his netting entanglement. I was very sad, poor little bat, he was so strong and feisty when I rescued him.”

The little bat was killed by unsafe netting and Jill, while stoic, could have done without the stress and heartache of it all.

A second from Tamsyn:

According to Tamsyn Hogarth, coordinator of flying fox rescue with Wildlife Victoria, in nine months, safe netting regulations have already produced a significant drop in Grey-headed flying fox entanglements,

"We are delighted with the reduced amount of injury and death of our loved bats and birds and the reduced workload on stressed rescuers and wildlife rehabilitation shelters" (Pers Comm 27.5.22).

And Finally from Bev Brown:

Last year bat rescuer Bev Brown (OAM) finished her 500th bat netting rescue and never gets used to seeing animals suffer,

“It’s very stressful, they’re wounded and in pain. Their eyes plead with you to help and we have so many euthanized, it is heart breaking. I ask people: please don’t use nets a little finger can pass through or just zip washing bags over fruit…share high fruit with wildlife.”

Thank You for Helping us Achieve An Outcome for our Upside Down Friends!

If not us then who? If not now then when?

Lawrence Pope

President: Friends of Bats & Bushcare Inc.

PO Box 377 North Carlton

Victoria 3054


ph. 0416 228 696

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