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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 –

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.


On 17 February 2011 the Federal Court ruled against the Bat Advocacy Inc’s challenge to the decision of the Minister for Environment Protection Peter Garrett to allow the forced removal of the colony of Grey-Headed Flying-Foxes (GHFF) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. This was not an appeal to review the merits of the decision, but a hearing on points of law. The court said that its function was to examine whether “the correct processes were followed by the Minister in making his decision.”

Flying-foxes love the nectar of flowering Gums & will quietly drink from each flower of the tree

Bat Advocacy Inc raised 4 challenges, which were answered by the court as follows:

1. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration when exercising his power of approval. That consideration was the impact on the GHFF resulting from their removal from their critical habitat in the Gardens. A:    The Minister concluded that the proposed action should be attempted if the GHFF could be acceptably & safely dispersed in order to prevent ongoing damage being occasioned to the internationally significant trees within the Gardens. Thus, the Minister did not fail to consider the loss of the GHFF habitat in the Gardens and the draft Recovery Plan.

2. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account a relevant consideration, namely the social matters & the associated community conflicts resulting from the dispersal of the GHFF to areas outside the Gardens. A:    The portion of the Reasons under the heading ‘Social & Economic Matters’ demonstrates that the Minister has given due regard to information on social matters identified in the PER & in public submissions.

3. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into account all adverse impacts, present & throughout the duration of the approval, that the approval would have on matters protected by Part 3 of the EPBC Act. The approval is stated to remain effective until 2039. The applicant does not identify the impacts which have allegedly been disregarded by the Minister. Rather, the submission merely suggests that there may be cumulative impacts which will adversely affect the GHFF. A:     Based upon the precise nature of the monitoring, which will continue throughout the life of the approval, & upon which the life of the approval is contingent, it could not be said that the Minister failed to consider how the approval would operate to the date of expiry.

4. Q:    Did the Minister fail to take into consideration other information in the Minister’s possession concerning similar GHFF dispersals which had been raised in public submissions and referred to in the Independent Expert Report of Dr Richards. A:     The Minister was aware of the potential for the proposed action to be unsuccessful. In these circumstances, the Court cannot conclude that the Minister failed to consider previous unsuccessful attempts to disperse colonies of GHFF in Australia.

That still doesn’t make the decision the right one & the court hasn’t answered this question.

In May 2011, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust will start dispersal techniques of around 22,000 ‘threatened’ grey-headed flying foxes.  The Sydney Morning Herald wrote – “But the Gardens said that to date the bats had destroyed 27 mature trees & more than 20 palms since they took up residence there 20 years ago.  Another 300 trees were at risk, Dr Entwisle said.  Several sites have been identified as possible homes for the bats, including existing flying fox camps at Ku-ring-gai, Cabramatta & Parramatta.  Botany Bay National Park & Lane Cove National Park were also named, although the Gardens has said it could not be certain whether the bats would settle in any specific location.”

Flying-foxes also love the nectar from Grevillea flowers

According to bat experts, dispersal techniques will make the bats tired & stressed, making them prone to serious injury. They will have to join other colonies to fight & compete with food that was, at least during 2010, very scarce.  Bats were found all along the east coast of Australia & as far as Adelaide looking for food with some eating citrus fruit in country orchards, although citrus is not their usual food.

The east coast situation of starving bats has resulted in an increase in anti-bat sentiment in the community with many complaining about bats in their garden keeping them or their children awake at night. This blog’s stats show with alarming regularity people searching the question, “How to get rid of bats?”  I know what the answer will be.  Some people will chop down their trees to take away the food & the tree/s that the bats are using.  No tree, no bat. I predict there will be a great increase tree removal & despite the rules & regulations of Councils, many won’t bother to get permission.  Our Council wouldn’t know the true numbers of tree removal across Marrickville LGA & I’d bet this is the same with other Councils.

Golf courses, when they have Fig trees, are wonderful for flying-foxes to find food

Sydney Councils have been saying throughout 2010 that they did not want the 22,000 Botanic Gardens flying-foxes to come to their area so it’s not as simple as removing the bats from the Gardens for them to happily fly away to another home. Their removal will have a ripple effect & I doubt it will be supportive of the bats.

The grey-headed flying fox is listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ with the major threat being loss of habitat. Other factors are: being killed by people & declining numbers.  Flying foxes have a very low breeding rate so don’t breed & boom.  They eat native fruit & nectar & do a terrific & vital job in pollination & seed distribution so we actually need them. When starving they will eat citrus fruit.  Because of loss of habitat, flying-foxes come to feed on flowering trees in suburban back gardens.  They eat & leave, rarely deciding to roost & usually only return for 2-3 weeks before moving on to a different food source. There is no evidence that people can get the Hendra virus from bats. Rather than hurt a flying fox if you want to stop it from visiting your garden, contact the Department of Environment Climate Change & Water for assistance –

If you net fruit trees it is important to pull the netting tight so a bat can walk over it, but not get entangled & injured.

I appreciate the situation that the Trust is faced with & understand why they sought the eviction.  However, there are many others like me who are sad & disappointed about this decision, who believe the bats should be allowed to continue to live in the Botanic Gardens & that their eviction will create many more problems for bats & other birds.  It is also an enormous loss of opportunity for ‘natural tourism,’ as many people would travel to see such a glorious sight right in the heart of our city. Let’s hope that everything works out quickly so everyone can be happy, most of all the bats.

I last wrote about the flying foxes at the Royal Botanic Gardens here –’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

A Fig tree in fruit - fabulous food for Flying-foxes

1.           This is how City of Sydney Council regards their street trees (my emphasis)


Street trees are one of the City of Sydney’s most important assets. They make our city beautiful, improve air quality & provide cooling shade. The number of trees lining our streets has increased by 4,500 over the last five years, reaching 29,000.” They are currently reviewing their  Street Tree Master Plan & feedback is being asked of the community.  City of Sydney Council are working with the Australian Museum to develop an Urban Ecology Strategic Action Plan that will be completed mid 2011. The project aims to conserve indigenous plant & animal species & to improve their habitats. “This important project recognises that biodiversity is a crucial part of the environmental, social & cultural health of a city.”

2.           Not trees, but very local. Last December, thousands of dead fish were found floating in a pond at Sydney Airport. The pond is fed by water from the Alexandra Canal & the Cooks River.

3.           Australian National University plans to cut down 33 native trees for a new a new public policy centre & car park. “More than 20 of the trees are yellow box, long-leaved box and Blakely’s red gum, all protected as critically endangered grassy box woodland remnants under federal environmental laws.”

4.           5 Weeping Lilly Pillies have been planted in King George Square Brisbane

Cone & branch

after a  public outcry over a lack of shade. The community continues to be sceptical about the benefit of 5 trees saying there needs to be more shade trees & reminding that the trees will take years to grow to any decent size where they are capable of producing shade.  “At the time tests revealed temperatures hit 56.3C in shadeless parts of the square in summer.” I predict we will see more of this.  The Sydney newspapers reported loudly about people waiting for 12 hours in the blazing sun at the Opera House Forecourt to have a good viewing place for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

5.           The Mongarlowe Mallee, found in the Braidwood region is one of Australia’s rarest Eucalypts. The New South Wales Department of Environment & Climate Change has given the only survivor of 40 grafts to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra. Hopefully, they can manage to grow this tree & save it from extinction.

6.           WIRES have pleaded with people to net their fruit trees carefully as many flying foxes have been caught in them, suffering gross injury such as broken bones & other injuries that require the bats to be euthanized.

7.           Myrtle Rust, a deadly plant disease that originated in South America is heading towards the tea tree plantations of Tweed on the NSW north coast. Myrtle Rust has the potential to destroy tea tree plantations & the tea tree oil industry.

8.           Kingborough Council has dealt with the vandalism of trees for water views by erecting large signs. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust supported using the signs, but Paul Harriss, an Upper House MP didn’t, saying, “the signs are confrontational & unjustified.” I wonder how he would have felt about the shipping containers used by a council in Poole, England?

9.          This is great article about the increased ground salinity in farmland across

Flowering Wattle (Acacia)

Western Australia caused by clearing the landscape for farming.  The article explains how salinity occurs & how to manage it. “…the National Land & Water Resources Audit recently indicated up to 6.3 million hectares of the state’s farmland could develop shallow, saline water tables by 2050.” Planting trees is one way to manage salinity, however, “It’s just not realistic to expect farmers to revegetate 50 – 80% of their productive cropping land with trees, because it basically becomes an unproductive block.” Salinity is a dreadful problem across many part of Australia that is seriously affecting food-production land & is expected to get far worse.

10.           The community presented Ballarat Council with a petition demanding the removal of pine plantations from the suburbs of Mount Clear & Mount Helen to prevent bushfires close to housing.

11.          Community group, ‘Avenue Preservation Group’, won its fight to save 9 commemorative elm trees in the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour.  Moorabool Shire Council wanted to cut down the trees to allow for a roundabout to be built. The decision to refuse a permit to remove the trees was made by Heritage Victoria.  Moorabool Shire Mayor Pat Griffin has warned the council “will never give up” on the roundabout. Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy later considered overriding Heritage Victoria’s decision to refuse the permit.  As far as I know a decision has not been made.

12.          The Attorney-General is currently deciding on a list of plants to be banned in Australia & one of them is the iconic Wattle, Australia’s national floral emblem. Why? Because Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can be extracted from Wattle bark.  DMT is “a naturally-occurring hallucinogen traditionally consumed orally for healing, ceremonial or religious uses.” Not only will the loss of the Wattle affect Australia’s natural ecology, but also those legitimate industries that produce bush tucker of which Wattle seed is a component.  It’s unthinkable that the lovely Wattle flowers won’t be seen in spring.

Filled with bees & birds

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