Bat Friendly Fencing

Bat Friendly Fencing: Because Barbed Wire has become both an Animal Welfare & a Conservation Issue

When bats are caught on a barbed wire fence, they need to be rescued carefully. They need to be rehydrated and assessed by a wildlife vet, followed by a period of 2 to 3 weeks of rehabilitation. There is usually a die-back process in the injured wing membrane that may not be evident for several days. The lack of blood supply to the wing membrane during entanglement can lead to a significant loss of membrane. Often bones are broken or stripped of wing membrane and infection may set in. As a result of trying to free themselves, bats can have a great deal of difficulty eating due to injuries to the mouth, palate, teeth and jaw. A nutritious soft diet of fruit smoothies, regular fluids, antibiotics and pain relief medication are crucial to help with healing.

Little Red flying-foxes are affected more than the 3 larger species of flying-foxes because their flight is weaker in windy conditions. Tolga Bat Hospital has reported that many Little Red flying-foxes are often caught on a kilometre stretch of barbed wire on the Atherton Tablelands during the windy months of August to October.

For this reason, we seek a fundamental change in the approach to fencing, which considers the welfare of wildlife in the Australian environment.

Businesses and factories have every right to protect their premises, however they need to reconsider using barbed wire which continues to injure and kill wildlife in urban Australia. 

There are other options available to secure premises, for example:

  1. Back to base monitoring and surveillance cameras are readily available. Is it necessary to have barbed wire on top of security fences?
  2. Wildlife Friendly Fencing, fencing that is safe and effective for people, livestock and wildlife:
  • It does not entangle or harm wildlife.
  • Allows the free movement of wildlife across rural and urban landscapes.

In a recent report, President of Friends of Bats & Bushcare, Lawrence Pope, stated that changes are taking place in Victoria with regard to reducing the pain and suffering of wildlife from barbed wire. Several of Victoria's Municipalities, including Parks Victoria, are taking action to reduce the presence of barbed wire by removal or non-replacement, and/or to make barbed wire safer by lighting, flagging or tape marking. 

If barbed wire is visible, birds and mammals will avoid it.


In addition to these policy changes, some Councils are looking at planning approvals, and are not granting approval to new applications which include 'barbed wire' fences. Therefore installation of the usual 'standard security fence' is being re-examined, because the usual 2.4 metre triple-strand barbed wire fence is unnecessary, expensive, easy to cut through with average wire cutters and deadly to wildlife. 

Australian Bat Society Members have offered the following suggestions to make the presence of barbed wire more visible:

a. Aluminum tags fixed to the wire with a crimping tool. Trialed at Lavarack Barracks, Queensland, the tags go for kilometres along the perimeter of the army base. 

No bat has been caught since the tags were put on the barbed wire.

b. Plastic flagging, used to define work sites, comes attached to a tough plastic filament and is easy to apply over long distances using netting clips.

c. Electric fencing tape attached to strands of barbed wire, in this instance, across a creek. 

It is important to note that the poor dead bats, in the image below, were there BEFORE the tape was installed. 

Since the tape has been installed, there have been no bats caught on the barbed wire fence.

Dear friends and supporters, please take every opportunity to reinforce to your local Council and politicians, to reduce the pain & suffering of wildlife from barbed wire, and ask them to make the following changes:

i. Encourage your local Council to not grant approval to new applications which include 'barbed wire' fences.

ii. Reduce the presence of existing barbed wire fences, by removal or non-replacement.

iii. Make existing barbed wire fences safer, by lighting, flagging or tape marking.

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