The Horrors of Barbed Wire By Ilona Roberts
In Australia, the presence of barbed wire is so ubiquitous that most people are hardly aware of its presence. It forms the boundaries of countless properties and is the accepted way of keeping sheep and cattle within those boundaries. Until I became a wildlife carer, I must say I hadn’t thought about it much, either. But after almost four years of rescuing animals unfortunate enough to be caught on it, I’m unable to see barbed wire as anything but evil and destructive. I find it hard to believe that it is the only effective kind of fencing for sheep and cattle. Although various kinds of animals and birds become barbed wire victims, those most frequently caught are Flying-foxes. If the animal is lucky, someone will see it and call us; if not, it will suffer a lingering, painful death. These rescues are fraught with difficulty, as the animals often have their wings caught on two or more barbs and wound around the barbs several times as well. It usually requires two people to effect the rescue and often takes an hour or more. Apart from horrendous tears to their wing membranes, these poor creatures can sustain fractures of limbs, and in desperation they will try to chew themselves free. This frequently results in perforation by the barbs of their upper palate, which renders them unable to eat and they have to be euthanased. They suffer from dehydration in the summer if we don’t get to them quickly. What astounds us as rescuers is how patient the Flying-foxes are with us. They seem to know we are there to help, and remain quiet. A friend of mine who is a leather worker told me that Australian hides are not popular with leather workers because of the damage from barbed wire. I notice that barbed wire is not used where valuable horses might damage themselves. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem to matter that our precious wildlife is sacrificed. To some it might come under the heading of ‘acceptable losses’. But not to me.
Backyard Fruit Netting Based on NPWS Guidelines
In an effort to protect their fruit trees from birds and flying-foxes, many people carry out inappropriate netting practices, inadvertently causing horrific injuries and even death to native wildlife such as birds and Flyingfoxes. In the case of Flying-foxes, the injuries are often not visible initially, but often lead to the death of the animal. Proper netting structures will not only protect trees from damage from wildlife, wind and hail, but will also ensure our wildlife is not harmed. Bad Netting Practices The use of thin nylon (monofilament) netting material can cause serious injury. Also, netting that is loosely thrown over trees causes entanglements. Good Netting Design A homemade frame may be constructed of timber, metal or lengths of poly pipe inserted over star pickets driven into the ground, with spacer bars of pipe or wood to stabilize the frame at the top. Stretch durable knitted netting, with mesh size of 40mm or smaller, over the frame. Or 30% blockout shade cloth can be used. The net must be stretched tightly over the frame and pegged securely to the ground, leaving room inside the frame for picking, pruning and growth. Your responsibility! It is the responsibility of each of us to make sure our fruit trees are netted in a wildlifefriendly manner. It is illegal to net your trees in a way that could harm wildlife, and you could be prosecuted. Orchadists Raising F-Fs A trip to the property of Robyn and John Gough near Lismore is an enlightening experience. They are orchardists, and their livelihood depend on their crop. Their orchards feature full exclusion netting. Stretched tight on poles, the acres and acres of netting stop crop damage from flying-foxes, birds, and hail. Research has shown that such netting, whilst expensive to install initially, can pay for itself in as little as twelve months. Robyn and John are also nothing short of legends in the care and raising of orphaned flying-fox babies. Orchardists raising flyingfoxes…