Netting is often used by gardeners and farmers to stop wildlife from eating crops. But most is flimsy with big holes, so creatures get trapped, strangled or hung. Cut up existing unsafe netting into small lengths, then securely dispose of it, to avoid harming wildlife at landfill. We’ve taken info below from advice at wildlife experts (check for updates) which want a ban on flimsy netting (and QR codes on fruit trees, that link to advice). Also read of wildlife-friendly fencing alternatives.
Wildlife rescues recommend picking fruit early (to avoid netting) or using fruit bags that drape over crops (these can be temporarily removed to let bees etc collect blossom). Some people recommend 30% shadeout cloth over netting. Avoid tree glue bands, these harm all creatures.
If you use netting, choose quality (white) brands with mesh size less than 5mm (some say 2mm) that you can’t poke fingers through and check daily for tautness (so creatures ‘bounce off’ if they land). See photo of netting to use/avoid). Read tips to weigh netting down to prevent access. For trapped creatures, call local wildlife rescue (block sun from trapped reptiles with a damp towel or umbrella).
Netting is not legally allowed to be on nesting sites already in use. You can report to RSPCA and wildlife crime unit for anyone who puts up netting, after birds arrive at a nest site. Help is available from organisations like RSPB (they helped a Tesco branch replace netting with specialised nesting boxes and BT, which replaced netting with ledges to give endangered kittiwakes a safe resting place).
how to deter herons from ponds
Herons tend to hunt at dawn and dusk for fish, insects, worms, small birds and amphibians. They may see ponds as ‘easy pickings’ and use them to teach young how to catch fish. Dummy herons don’t usually work as herons often hunt together, so they may ‘join the feed’. Heron deterrent discs are also not recommended as they can choke oxygen out of the water and hog spikes could get trapped in them (they also collect debris, which could cause hazards to pets and other creatures). Ponds should not have vertical sides, to avoid drowning hazards.
The only real solutions are to accept that ponds come with a risk of herons eating them. You could try using tall plants (so herons can’t see predators so may stay away – avoid pet-toxic plants. or agitate the water so fish are hard to see (if using a solar fountain, refer to care manuals to ensure these are safe for your fish and other pond creatures). It’s illegal to harm a heron, so report concerns.