Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project - 2007 (ongoing)
More than 60 wildlife species have been identified in Australia as occasional or regular victims of barbed wire fences. Each year thousands of these animals face a cruel death or permanent disability from entanglement on wires that are invisible to them at night. Many of the survivors are euthanased as they are unreleasable. Nocturnal animals such as bats, gliders and raptors are especially at risk.
Barbed wire is an icon in the Australian landscape that has remained unchallenged for too long. Fencing is integral to good land management, but it needs to be done in a way that is wildlife-friendly. There are non-harmful fencing alternatives available that minimise the likelihood of harm to wildlife.
In September 2006 Bat Rescue's FNQ counterparts, Tolga Bat Hospital, received a grant from the Threatened Species Network of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to commence the Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project. The long process of raising public awareness of the impact of barbed wire on all wildlife, especially those under serious threat of extinction, has already begun.
Funding from WWF targeted Queensland, in particular the Atherton Tablelands and south-east Queensland. The flagship species for the project were the Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus), Grey-Headed Flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis).
Bat Rescue Inc. administered the Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project activities in south-east Queensland, and is proud to be in partnership with Tolga Bat Hospital and Bat Conservation & Rescue (Brisbane) for this worthwhile initiative.
Please visit www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com for detailed information on the project and how you can help.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS YOU CAN HELP!
Every year many Flying-foxes, possums, snakes and birds become entangled in loose netting over backyard fruit trees. Thin nylon netting causes terrible injuries which often results in death. There are other wildlife friendly methods to protect your fruit, see wildlife friendly netting here.
Another temporary alternative is to throw 30% blockout shadecloth over the tree while it is in fruit. This will not prevent the fruit from ripening but will deter animals and birds. Fruit can also be individually bagged on the tree to protect it.
If you must use netting, individual fruit trees can be protected from wildlife by using durable light-coloured knitted (visible at night to nocturnal animals) netting stretched tightly over a frame. An easy way to do this is using lengths of metal, timber or polypipe which can be inserted over star pickets driven into the ground with spacer bars of pipe or wood to stabilise the frame at the top. Stretch mesh (maximum mesh size 40mm) tightly over this frame and peg it securely to the ground.
Suggested Flying-fox food plants
Bottlebrush Swamp Bloodwood Eucalypt
EUCALYPTS & ALLIES Corymbia citridora (Lemon Scented Gum), C. intermedia (Pink Bloodwood), C. ptychocarpa (Swamp Bloodwood), E. curtisii (Plunket Mallee), E. tessellaris (Moreton Bay Ash), Lophostemon suaveolans (Swamp Box)
For a detailed list of Flying fox-food plants refer to "Flying Foxes, Fruit and Blossom Bats of Australia" by Dr. Leslie Hall and Dr. Greg Richards --flora photographs © Halley
Did you know that many of our microbat species are hollow dependent? This means that they live during the daylight hours inside the hollows of trees, sometimes even hollow branches.
As you can imagine there are many other animals who also look for hollow trees to live in including birds, possums and gliders. Sadly however these old trees are disappearing due to land clearing. Councils are also cutting hollow limbs from trees as they are presumed to pose a danger to the public in parks and reserves. Unfortunately it can take decades, if not hundreds of years, for a tree to develop a hollow suitable for some inhabitants.
On one occasion a small colony of free tail bats Mormopterus loriae that were living in a branch with a 15cm diameter had to be rescued. It had been hollowed out by termites and was a perfect home with many little twists and crevices for microbats to live in.
Unfortunately, some well meaning locals thought the tree needed a prune as they posed a danger if these branches were to fall down on to the road. The local council which authorised this to be done was very surprised that local wildlife became displaced as a result. The branch with the remaining colony of microbats was taken to a Bat Rescue member, who provided them with a nest box and the colony in their new home were relocated soon after.
This is why artificial roost sites are so important as they often provide that alternative, and microbats do use them. For a bat house design that really works see Hollow Log Homes.
Bats are also known to use roofs and walls in dwellings if they cannot find a suitable hollow. If home owners are unhappy with their tiny boarders there are humane ways to exclude them from homes and provide alternative roost sites. For those seeking such a solution, information is provided in this document: Little Bats in the Wall.
Please note that in Australia the young of microbats are born in late spring and remain with their mothers until the end of January. Any attempt at gentle bat eviction should be made in Autumn, or at least after February and before June when it can be certain that the young are fully independent.
Here are links to some easy-to-build Microbat houses:
1 - Batflat 1
2 - Batflat 2
3 - Batflat 3
4 - Batflat 4