Securing fruitful change: new program to protect fruit bats with wildlife safe netting


ACT Wildlife have launched a new program, supported by the ACT Government, to replace fruit netting with wildlife safe options for free.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the net replacement program is designed to support a transition to wildlife safe netting ahead of a proposed amendment to the Nature Conservation Act 2014 that will ban the use of unsafe netting in the ACT.

“ACT Wildlife are accepting and replacing unsafe netting for free at pop-up events over the coming months to support native wildlife conservation,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“Netting is a popular method of protecting fruit trees from being a bite to eat for native animals like birds and bats, but it can entangle threatened native wildlife if the mesh size is too large or it is not installed correctly.

“ACT Wildlife are regularly called upon to rescue wildlife such as Grey-headed Flying-foxes, among other species, from netting in urban backyards.

“Grey-headed Flying-foxes are vulnerable to extinction in the ACT and naturally become distressed when entangled, causing serious injuries or even death before help can arrive.

“The ACT in facing an extinction crisis. In a crisis, you need to do everything you can to protect native wildlife from population decline.

“This is a small change, that will make a big difference to the lives of fruit bats and other wildlife in the ACT. When our natural environment is in sharp decline, these small changes can add up to make a big difference.

“The replacement netting will be completely free, giving everyone the opportunity to make the change to netting friendly to our native wildlife and their fruiting plants.”

Fruit netting should have a mesh size of 5mm x 5mm or smaller, with no gaps for wildlife to enter from the ground or sky. If your finger can fit through the mesh, it is unsafe.

Find out more about the pop-up events and how to replace your nets on the ACT Wildlife website

Find out more about wildlife safe fruit-tree netting on the ACT Government Environment website.

If you come across entangled wildlife, please don’t try to release animals yourself. Call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 to arrange a safe rescue with a qualified wildlife handler.

Quotes attributable to Clare Wynter, Flying Foxes Co-Ordinator at ACT Wildlife:    

“Unsafe netting causes death and injury to flying foxes, birds, lizards, snakes and other wildlife. Seeing the harm these nets cause is heartbreaking for wildlife rescue volunteers. 

“Backyard fruit trees can be protected with far less chance of harming wildlife simply by using nets with holes smaller than you can put a finger through.  These kinds of nets are better for both fruit trees and wild animals.

“ACT Wildlife is delighted that the ACT government has supported it to deliver a free net swapping program where households can exchange their unsafe netting for safer alternatives.”