Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Wetland with green trees in the background. Barbed wire fence in the forefront with flying-fox entangled by its wings on the middle barned line


Fencing is important for stock control. Netting protects fruit trees. Both can be harmful to wildlife.

Animals become trapped, causing suffering, injury, or death.

Discover tips and information to help you in selecting wildlife friendly fencing and netting.

Photo credit - Lib Ruytenberg


Hungry animals are also easily tangled in large nets covering flowering and fruiting trees. Native animals like will seek out planted fruit trees during severe weather events like drought and flood, when their natural food isn’t available. This includes:

  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Lizards
  • Snakes.

Tips on choosing wildlife friendly netting

  • Only use netting that passes the ‘finger test’, meaning you cannot poke your finger through it. The size of each hole needs to be less than 5mm so that animals cannot get trapped. More densely woven nets will protect trees while not trapping wildlife.
  • Strand diameter thickness should be greater than 500 microns or with a cross-weave design.
  • Use white netting so that animals can see it at night.
  • Secure the base of nets to the tree trunk or ground to stop wildlife from getting inside.

For more information on the right netting for your property, visit Wildlife friendly netting

Dispose of nets safely

Discarded old netting can also be a risk. Snakes, lizards and other animals can get trapped in used mesh that is left lying around.

  • Take down nets and store them safely when trees aren’t fruiting.
  • Buy good quality netting that lasts to reduce the amount of old netting in the environment.
  • Put it into a strong biodegradable bag before throwing away.

Photo credits:

Barbed wire fencing

Barbed wire fences are invisible at night, low-light or in smoky air. Animals can hit them at full speed. Barbed wire is particularly dangerous for nocturnal animals such as:

  • Gliders
  • Flying foxes
  • Owls
  • Wallabies
  • Possums
  • Koalas.

The best thing you can do to protect wildlife is: 

  • Remove unnecessary barbs. Check your property to see if you have old security fences that you no longer need.
  • Replace non-essential barbed wire fencing with smooth wire. If you don’t have cattle on your property, you probably don’t need a barbed wire fence.
  • Reduce the amount of barbed wire on your property. Avoid installing new barbed wire fencing, particularly around wildlife corridors, forested areas, food sources and nesting areas.

Contact your local hardware or farm shop to see if they stock wildlife friendly fencing. If not, ask them to get it in.

How to make barbed wire fencing safer for wildlife

Adjusting barbed fencing is especially important along parts of the fence most likely to be visited by wildlife such as:

  • fences between paddock trees or next to forests
  • along creek lines and wetlands
  • near food sources such as flowering or fruiting tree
  • near dens or nesting areas.

Making barbed fencing more visible will make it safer for wildlife. To do this you could:

  • Tie bright or shiny materials to top and middle strands every 30cm along the fence, such as aluminium gardening tags, orange tape, white cable ties, cloth strips or old CDs.
  • Cover the entire fence or just the top/bottom strands with shade cloth using cable ties. This will still allow the barbs to poke through for stock control but make the fence more visible to wildlife.
  • Cover top and bottom barbed strands with slit poly-pipe or garden hose.

Alternatives to barbed wire fencing

Alternatives to barbed wire include:

  • Stock-proof fences made from multi-strand high-tensile smooth wire.
  • Electric fences, only if designed to effectively control stock and consider wildlife protection.
  • Where barbed wire is necessary use smooth wire on top and bottom strands. Barbed middle strands are usually enough to keep cattle at bay.