| 14.09,19. 01:44 PM |
Gardeners to face backyard blitz on netting with new laws proposed to protect wildlife
Photo: Draft laws are aiming to protect birds and small creatures like bats being caught up in fruit and vegetable netting (file photo) (Supplied: Bat Conservation and Rescue Qld Inc)
Backyard gardeners could face fines of almost $2,500 if they are not careful when covering their fruit trees with nets.
In an Australian-first, the Victorian Government wants to legislate the colour and size of any netting used to protect household fruit trees and veggie patches.
Anyone found selling or advertising netting that does not meet the state's regulations could also face a maximum penalty of almost $2,500.
Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals laws propose all household fruit netting: "must have mesh size of 5mm or less at full stretch, be white in colour, and have a strand diameter of no less than 500 microns".
The Government said the new laws would help protect wildlife, and authorised officers would be given powers to investigate any reports of illegal netting.
"Despite public education campaigns, many animals are seriously injured or killed in fruit tree netting because people continue to use unsuitable types of netting to protect their trees," a spokeswoman said.
If approved, Victoria's backyard blitz would mean any person found using illegal netting could be fined $330, and a person selling, or advertising illegal netting fined $660.
If the matter is referred to the court, a maximum penalty of $2,478 is proposed.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said if netting was not used in the correct manner it could pose a serious risk to animals such as flying foxes, birds, possums, and even snakes.
It said animals could die from strangulation, blood loss, shock, or dehydration.
The RSPCA recommends gardeners check their netting at least twice a day to ensure animals are not caught.
Victoria's draft laws are available for public consultation until September.