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.

With spring around the corner, Animal Welfare Victoria has recently released its Harvest Without Harm campaign to raise awareness of changes to fruit netting requirements for Victorian households from 1 September 2021. The Harvest Without Harm factsheet below provides information on what you need to do, including tips for compliant wildlife-friendly netting.

Harvest Without Harm (PDF, 6.1 MB)

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)

Harvest Without Harm: Protecting your fruit trees and wildlife

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.

It is also recommended that white netting is used to make it easier for nocturnal animals to see and avoid at night.

Netting made from material with a strand diameter thicker than 500 microns or with a cross-weave design can also help reduce injuries and fatalities.

If you are looking to purchase new netting this year, you must purchase netting that meets these specifications to ensure you are compliant with the regulations.

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 through Animal Welfare Victoria.

Page last updated: 13/08/21