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This is an extreme example of poor netting technique. It's easy to see how wildlife can become entangled in this

This is an extreme example of poor netting technique. It’s easy to see how wildlife can become entangled in this.

'Waif' a baby flying fox in the care of WIRES at the moment.  Photo by Megan Churches with thanks :-)

‘Waif’ –  a baby flying fox in the care of WIRES at the moment.    Look how small.                                                     Photo by Megan Churches with thanks 🙂

Unfortunately WIRES, Sydney Wildlife & the RSPCA have all contacted Marrickville Council about the large number of wildlife rescues they have needed to do in Marrickville LGA because residents have been using netting in their gardens that is dangerous to wildlife or not correctly installing netting.

Flying foxes, microbats, birds, possums, snakes & lizards – any wildlife can easily get caught in netting.  The nylon cuts deeply into their body causing severe pain. The more they panic, the more injuries they sustain.

They cannot free themselves if just left alone.  Instead, they slowly starve to death.  Having distressed wildlife wrapped up in the netting over your fruit tree can be a very distressing experience.

Flying foxes caught in netting are often mothers who have gone searching for food for their babies who they left back at the colony.  When the mother does not return, the baby slowly starves to death.

All this dreadful suffering is totally preventable.

Fruit trees can still be covered in netting by using wildlife-friendly netting.  Netting used in the garden should look like fly screen. It should also be white, so the wildlife can see it.   Never use black netting.

If a child’s finger can fit through any of the holes of the netting, then it is dangerous to wildlife.  It is important to tie or fix netting at the bottom & not leave it draped over the tree or with the edges hanging.

Never attempt to release netting entangled wildlife.  You will only be putting yourself at risk of being bitten by a frightened animal likely to be experiencing severe pain.  Not knowing how to properly remove them can result in much greater injuries for the wildlife, as well as put you in hospital.  Bites can lead to loss of a finger or two.  Wildlife rescuers are trained in how to safely remove entangled birds or bats & will take the bird/animal to the vet for assessment & provide care if it can be rehabilitated.

If you see any wildlife that needs help contact –

  • Sydney Wildlife:  02 9413 4300 (24 hours) or
  • WIRES anywhere in NSW:  1300 094 737.

You can read more about wildlife friendly netting & how to properly net fruit trees & use netting in your garden here – http://bit.ly/1iU04dq

Flying foxes are experiencing enough trouble aong the eats coats of Australia.  Let's make sure that they don't also have to contend with dangerous netting.

It’s easy to make sure that flying foxes & other wildlife don’t get entangled in dangerous netting.

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The arrows point to rows of barbed wire fencing off the railway corridor at the back of Tillman Park Sydenham & in the background, at Frazer Park Marrickville. The large railway corridor here & the 2 parks have been identified as high biodiversity value

Earlier this week I watched a program on Channel 6 about a flying fox rehabilitation centre.  Unfortunately, I did not catch their name.  As with most programs on Channel 6, this was a simple documentary, the camera fixed on a woman who spoke about the work of the rehab centre with shots of the bats she was talking about.  The scene was a large aviary where flying foxes of all ages were being rehabilitated for release back into the wild.  A few bats had been so badly injured that they will remain at the rehab centre for life & are used as educational bats when speaking to groups.  They can’t fly.  One of these bats was at the Eco Festival on the Cooks River last year.

Some facts about flying foxes discussed on this program –

  • Flying foxes are playful, cheeky creatures that enjoy interacting with humans when in care.
  • They have close friendships with each other. Two bats that were tagged with consecutive numbers before release found themselves coming back into care a couple of years later showing that they had remained together since their release.
  • Staff members have come to work to find an injured bat waiting outside the aviary.  Checking their tags they found the bats, for there have been a few, knew where to come if they were injured.  Now that is smart.
  • Bats are not just flying around indiscriminately with a few thousand others. They are families, pairs & groups of friends who sleep together & forage for food together during the night.

The good thing is the new tree planted in Tillman Park recently. The bad thing is the barbed wire along the goods line. Two sides of Tillman Park has barbed wire fencing

What made me decide to write a post about this program was that the woman being interviewed said there were 2 main reasons why flying foxes get injured.  The first is barbed wire, which is often placed near a Eucalyptus or Bottle Brush tree. The bats come to feed on the flower nectar, don’t see the barbed wire & tear their wings.  Many bats are still alive when you see them tangled in barbed wire. They stay still because they are in pain. People who see them think they are dead & the bat ends up suffering a long, slow & painful death.  So if you see a flying fox in this condition, it is well worth ringing a wildlife rescue organization that will remove the bat if it is dead & rescue it if it is still alive.  Barbed wire injuries often mean that a bat cannot fly again & many are so badly injured that they need to be euthanized.

How I hate barbed wire & razor wire.  I’ve seen more of the stuff in Sydenham seeming to protect something belonging to Railcorp.  The back fence at Tillman Reserve & the border of the goods line is barbed wire as well.  Tillman Park & this section of Railcorp land is viewed as a prime biodiversity corridor so hopefully Marrickville Council will convince Railcorp to remove the barbed wire in these areas.

It’s crazy to plant to increase biodiversity & then surround the area with an invisible obstacle course that that has the high potential of severely injuring the very wildlife you are encouraging.  People know how to get through or over barbed wire & razor wire anyway so it is entirely unnecessary.

Even the Department of Corrective Services is removing barbed wire from the prison walls & is using slip-rollers instead. If the prisons can remove barbed & razor wire, surely the Council, Railcorp & other organizations around the locality can do the same.  How long before a kid gets hurt?

The second main cause of injury is fruit tree netting because people sling the net loosely over the tree. Loose netting means that bats as well as birds are very likely to become entangled in the net.  Netting causes deep wounds & severe burns to the skin of a bat. A tangled, trapped bat or a bird is also very difficult to get out of the netting.  A homeowner does not want to find a terrified & injured bat wrapped in netting high up in a fruit tree because trying to remove a wild animal is likely to cause injury to the person.  It is best to call a trained wildlife rescuer who has also been vaccinated against any bat-related viruses.

If you have fruit trees, you can still net them. However, you need to pull the netting tight around & under the canopy so that a bird or a bat will bounce off it if they land on the tree.  Sydney Bats have a document that explains how to net your fruit trees with wildlife in mind. – http://www.sydneybats.org.au/cms/index.php?urban

If you see an injured bat, call –

  • Sydney Wildlife (02) 9413 4300 or
  • WIRES (Wildlife Information & Rescue Service) (02) 8977 3333
  • Outside Sydney contact your local wildlife organization.
  • Your local Vet will also know whom to contact.

I made a couple of short YouTube videos of flying foxes in the local area –

Razor wire at Tempe Bus Depot

Tempe Reserve is a hot spot for biodiversity creation

Today is Threatened Species Day & September is also National Biodiversity Month.  These events are meant to raise awareness in the community about our environmental issues.  The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities says the following about Australia’s biodiversity –

“Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds & 89% of inshore, freshwater fish are endemic – that is they are only found in Australia. Changes to the landscape & native habitat as a result of human activity have put many of these unique species at risk. Over the last 200 years many plants & animals have become extinct.”

The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage says, “In NSW more than 1000 native species, populations & ecological communities are threatened with extinction.”  In Marrickville LGA we have remnants of Sydney Turpentine & Ironbark Forest, Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest, Sydney Sandstone & Sandstone Heath. The Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Action Plan identifies these as a priority for action to keep.  Once the habitat goes, so do the animals, birds, reptiles, frogs & insects that inhabit it.  In some areas species are hanging on by a thin thread.

In Marrickville LGA we have the Green & Gold Frog, the Grey-headed Flying Fox, the East-coast Freetail Bat, the Eastern Bentwing Bat & the Long-nosed Bandicoot on the vulnerable or endangered list.  With funding for the GreenWay being cut out in this week’s NSW Budget, the Bandicoot colonies will be at greater risk.

Flying Foxes across Australia have become ‘Public Enemy Number 1’ because they are impacting humans more than ever in search of ever-dwindling food sources & habitat.  Recently there have been incidents of poisoning local Fig trees, a major source of food for flying foxes.  For bats, the future is not looking good.

Also mentioned in the Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Strategy as threatened species for this area are the Red-crowned Toadlet, the Barking Owl, the Masked Owl, the Powerful Owl, the Sooty Owl, the Pied Oystercatcher, the Terek Sandpiper, the Swift Parrot, the Regent Honeyeater & the East-coast Freetail Bat.  That’s a long list for an area of only 14 square kilometres.

Looking at the map of ‘Threatened species, population & ecological communities around Marrickville LGA over the last decade’ in the Marrickville Draft Biodiversity Strategy, about 98% of sightings follow the GreenWay or near the GreenWay, the Cooks River & off to Wolli Creek.

Council has the responsibility to plant street trees, parks & other areas with urban wildlife in mind. It is wonderful to see that they have prepared such in-depth reports about biodiversity in Marrickville LGA. Their action list gives me great hope in that there will be a future for urban wildlife & that areas of habitat will continue to be cared for & built upon, especially for those classified as vulnerable or worse.

The Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation List of Threatened Fauna has a list of 444 species that makes for bleak reading – http://bit.ly/qCM3lO

Here is an Inner West Courier article about the GreenWay funding – http://bit.ly/o4MvUp & another where WIRES are asking people to net their fruit trees correctly so as not to injure flying foxes & birds – http://bit.ly/ovPTlB

There are a number of events happening across the locality for National Biodiversity Month such as the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk (see –  http://bit.ly/oHDA0C ) & the Birds & Bush event (see – http://bit.ly/pirv0V ).

This is a close-up of one of a row of perfect Bottle Brush (Callistemon) trees just inside the perimeter of Ferncourt Public School in Marrickville South. Native trees in this condition are great for biodiversity because they offer lots of food for a range of animals, birds, butterflies, native bees & other insects. If only the thousands of Bottle Brush trees across Marrickville LGA were in such good condition.

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