Victoria is home to many wildlife species that feed on fruit, including birds, bats (flying foxes) and possums.

As Victorian wildlife is protected by law, it is important to protect your backyard fruit trees from Victorian wildlife species that feed on it in a wildlife-safe way.  

Ensure wildlife do not get entangled in fruit tree netting by using the correct, safe netting to protect your trees.

Identifying the damage

The Bird and Flying-fox Damage to Orchard Fruit Guide is designed to help you identify which animal is damaging your fruit and provides suggestions to effectively manage it.

Bird and Flying-fox Damage to orchard fruit: an identification guide (DOC)
Bird and Flying-fox Damage to orchard fruit: an identification guide (PDF)

Protecting your fruit trees

Unfortunately, the use of inappropriate fruit tree netting is the leading cause of flying fox injury and death in Victoria. Netting with a large mesh size is more likely to entangle birds, possums or flying foxes. Their subsequent struggle to free themselves may cause deep cuts and strangulation, often leading to death.

To help protect wildlife from fruit tree netting, new provisions are being introduced under Victoria’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations. From 1 September 2021, these provisions will mean that any netting used to protect household fruit trees, vegetable gardens or other fruiting plants must have a mesh size no greater than 5mm x 5mm at full stretch.

If you are looking to purchase new netting this year, it is highly recommended that you buy netting that meets these specifications. This will avoid the need to replace the netting before 1 September 2021, when the new provisions will come into effect.  

An alternative to netting is placing fruit bags over individual branches. This reduces the risk of wildlife entanglement and leaves excess fruit available for hungry birds and flying foxes.

The fruit tree netting and wildlife fact sheet has been developed with the help of wildlife experts to help inform the public on the safest ways to protect backyard fruit trees and ensure wildlife does not get entangled in them.

Fruit tree netting and wildlife (PDF, 336.5 KB)
Fruit tree netting and wildlife (DOCX, 1.4 MB)

Further advice on protecting fruit trees and wildlife, and helping wildlife trapped in tree netting, is available at https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/livestock-and-animals/animal-welfare-victoria/pocta-act-1986/protecting-fruit-trees-and-wildlife.

Page last updated: 06/10/20