Twenty-five rainbow lorikeets killed by one fruit net

28 March 2018

Today Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) shared news of 25 rainbow lorikeets that were killed by a single fruit-tree net on a property in the Melbourne metro area. As a result, DELWP is urging the public to check or remove their fruit-tree netting before going away for the Easter holidays.

DELWP Wildlife Officer, Abby Smith said that this particular case is very upsetting.

“The net caught a total of 45 lorikeets. Twenty-three were found dead, 22 went into care, and of those another two died.

“There are still three birds in care, and thanks to fast acting volunteers, 17 birds were able to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

“Unfortunately, much of the netting that’s commonly used to protect fruit trees can be fatal to wildlife, often trapping lorikeets, flying-foxes, owls and possums.

“Where netting holes are too big, bird wings and feet get caught in the netting.

“Wildlife safe netting has holes 5mm x 5mm or smaller, ‘flywire’ size, and is widely available. Fruit socks or bags are also very wildlife safe,” Ms Smith said.

Friends of Bats and Bushcare President, Lawrence Pope states that many of the rescues their volunteers are called out to could easily be prevented – as evidenced by this case.

“For 44 birds to become trapped, it is evident the tree owner was not regularly checking for fruit or removing it. And in many rescues, we find nets covering trees laden with old, rotting fruit.

“A lot of people go away over the Easter break, and I hope this messaging gets through to them.

“If you’re going away, pick your fruit early and leave your trees un-netted – sharing with wildlife is practical conservation. When you are using fruit netting, make sure you use safe netting that’s pulled tightly over the tree.”

Picking fruit is also important to prevent Queensland Fruit Fly, whose spread is often caused by fruit on backyard trees being left to rot. More information on Queensland Fruit Fly.

If you find injured wildlife in your netting, please call your local wildlife rescue group – details are available at www.delwp.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/wildlife/wildlife-rehabilitation.