Protecting Grey-headed flying foxes from dangerous netting

Australian Greens

To protect grey-headed flying foxes from dangerous garden netting, the ACT is developing a program that will encourage the Canberra community to replace non‐wildlife friendly netting free of charge.

Grey headed flying foxes are a threatened species in the ACT and Australia-wide because of a loss of habitat by development and recent coastal bushfires. Grey headed flying foxes also suffer injuries and death because of entanglement in non-wildlife friendly netting.

In 2021, over 60% of grey‐headed flying foxes that came into ACT Wildlife’s care were due to entanglement in fruit‐tree netting. Sadly, 71 deaths of grey‐headed flying‐foxes occurred due to inappropriate residential netting.

ACT Greens MLA for Ginninderra and Animal Welfare spokesperson, Jo Clay, moved a motion in November 2021, calling for the ACT Government to:

  • Explore legislation that allows only the sale and use of animal-friendly netting with a mesh size of 5mm x 5mm or less at full stretch;
  • Develop an educational program for the ACT community on the dangers and risks of inappropriately gauged netting on our wildlife; and
  • Develop a program to help residents replace old netting with animal friendly netting.

As a result of the motion, the ACT Government is currently working with ACT Wildlife to develop, sponsor and implement a program that will allow non‐wildlife friendly netting to be replaced free of charge.

The government will also coordinate a be a public education program with ACT Wildlife on the dangers of inappropriate netting.

ACT Greens MLA for Kurrajong and Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti, said this important animal welfare change was a result of ACT Greens working across government.

“I am very grateful to my colleague Ms Clay for her sponsoring this motion to raise this important issue. I am excited about the partnership work that it has enabled,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“The ACT Government has already commenced work to eliminate the use of non‐animal friendly netting in the ACT.

“The ACT Government has successfully conducted net‐swapping programs in the past through the yabby opera house net‐swapping program, so key learnings from that program will be considered in developing our fruit‐tree netting swap program.”

ACT Greens MLA for Ginninderra and Animal Welfare spokesperson, Jo Clay, said she was delighted to see this progress.

“This program will help Canberrans use wildlife-safe netting here in the ACT. It will have a direct positive impact on this species and many others,” Ms Clay said.

“It will help to curb the loss of numbers and it will also help deliver the community education and the ongoing conversation we need to take better care of our wildlife. It will help us keep the amazing creatures we’ve been blessed with, so that future generations can share a planet with them too.

“I would like to extend my thanks to ACT Wildlife who were a key partner in this project. Their first‐hand experience and knowledge of the dangers of improperly installed wide‐gauge fruit‐tree netting has guided this reform.

“While the exchange program is still being developed, I encourage Canberrans to take action themselves and replace non‐wildlife friendly netting with a friendly version which are available for purchase from local retailers.”

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