Here is some helpful advice from the Friends of Bats and Bushcare on how we can protect our fruits and save wildlife and even our forests. The most frequent mega-bat (flying fox) visitor to urban backyards in eastern Australia is the native Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus).
The nectar, fruit and pollen they find in our gardens is now essential for their survival. As the bats move from camp-to-camp across eastern Australia they pollinate and disperse seeds from millions of hectares of forest. A flying fox can spread 60,000 seeds a night and a colony of 20,000 bats…you do the maths! They also carry pollen from male to female flowers many kilometres apart ensuring trees and plants don’t become inbred.
Unfortunately, many flying foxes, snakes, possums and birds are killed or injured in unsafe netting each year.
From Sept 1 of 2021 it will be illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 to use fruit tree netting with holes larger than 5mm x 5mm (basically anything you can put a little finger through).
A good solution is using zip-on washing bags over fruit you can reach and leaving the high fruit for the bats, birds and possums. This will be safe for you (no ladder climbing!) and safe for our wild friends who are struggling in these times of megafires, heatwaves and drought.
Don’t forget that old netting, when discarded, can still become an entanglement risk. It helps to place old netting into a strong biodegradable bag before putting into landfill. Further advice on protecting fruit trees and wildlife, and helping injured wildlife, is available here.
Never try to release an entangled animal. Keep pets away. No touch = No risk. Always call your local wildlife rescue group, for example Wildlife Victoria 8400 7300. They will send a specialist rescuer.
Whatever you choose: small aperture whole-of-tree nets, fruit bags / washing bags, orange bags, or picking early / no nets, you’ll be helping wildlife (and the babies whose lives depend on them) every single night by reducing the risk of them getting entangled. Thank you for helping!