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This intervention won’t make the barbed wire that seems to be popping up throughout Marrickville LGA safer for people, but it will make it safer for urban wildlife.  As for razor wire, as far as I am concerned it has no place in the Inner West.  I came across a website called ‘The Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project.’ It is trying to raise awareness about the dreadful impact of barbed wire fencing on wildlife. See – http://wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/WFF/Home.html

“Each year thousands of animals face a cruel death or permanent injury from entanglement on barbs, usually on the top strand. More than 75 wildlife species have been identified in Australia as occasional or regular victims of barbed wire fences, especially nocturnal animals such as bats, gliders & owls. Many fail to see the fence, or cannot clear the height under windy conditions. Most of those rescued are too severely damaged to return to the wild.”

Until organisations like Railcorp & Marrickville Council remove barbed wire from their fencing, interested people can do something simple that will go a long way to helping birds & bats avoid injury.

A length of white ribbon or other white material tied at 1.5 – 2 metre intervals along the top strand of barbed wire will make this area visible to birds & they will fly above the barbed wire. The top strand is important as 86% of wildlife entangled on barbed wire is caught on the top strand & white is the colour that is most easily visible at night.  The material should be long enough to be able to move in the wind. A 25 cm length tied will allow a drop of around 12 cms (5 inches), enough to be able to flutter, but not so much to be a visible eyesore.

This is a simple & cheap way of preventing injury to wildlife.  !!! Anyone who wants to do this needs to be careful not to injure themselves whist attaching the ribbon to the fence. A pair of leather gardening gloves will help avoid injury as will long sleeves & a careful approach. !!!  And stay away from razor wire!

The Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project is also calling for the banning of sales of monofilament (thin nylon type) netting & all black netting across Australia.  Their website has photographs of animals caught in this type of netting & the injuries are horrendous. Bats & birds that get caught in this type of netting suffer a long, slow & agonising death for want of a simple change of netting & doing the job properly.  Bird & bat-friendly netting is readily available & all one has to do is ensure that the netting is tight around the tree so that it has a bounce-effect. This will allow wildlife to walk over the netting without getting entangled & without being able to get to your fruit.  If the flying-foxes do get dispersed from Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, we will likely have an increase in bats in our suburbs & more care needs to be applied to not expose them to unnecessary dangers.

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

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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

 

Rows of barbed wire along the top of the Gannon Street fence of the Tempe Bus Depot

The completed renovation to the Tempe Bus & Tram Depot (corner of Gannon Street & Princes Highway) looks great.  The area looks much cleaner than it used to look.  They kept all the old historic buildings & surprisingly, even a very large tree on site.

All lovely, except that they have used razor wire on the entrance gate & rows of barbed wire over some of the perimeter fencing.

Thankfully, they did decide to keep this very tall tree

Why?  Tempe isn’t a war zone.  They are not doing it purely for security reasons as the fence along the Princes Highway & around a third of the fence on Gannon Street is topped with spikes preventing all, but the determined from climbing over.  I know how to get over the spikes.  Movies on TV taught me this.

I think the cost of the fence along the Princes Highway & Gannon Street was much more expensive than the black cyclone fencing used for the remainder of the fence along Gannon Street.

Now if I know how to get over a spiked fence from watching TV, so do others.  The technique is the same for barbed wire, though who would bother in this case.  Wire cutters would do the job of cutting an entrance hole in the cyclone fencing in under a minute removing the need to climb.

What I am saying is people will get in through the cyclone fencing, therefore the need for razor wire & rows of barbed wire on the top is totally unnecessary.  It is also potentially dangerous which is why I am posting about this.  There are other places where one could enter the property with relative safety.

Someone may be silly enough or intoxicated enough to decide to climb & could suffer horrendous injury from doing so.  Birds & other wildlife could also be slashed to bits. And for what?  I’d like someone to give me a legitimate explanation.

Barbed wire, & particularly razor wire, is ugly & dangerous.  I can think of no reason why the peaceful people of Tempe should have to be living with razor wire & barbed wire.

Razor wire on top of the Gannon Street gate to the Tempe Bus Depot

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