The RSPCA has urged avid gardeners to remove netting from their plants and flowerbeds.
Animal welfare experts have warned that people protecting their shrubs with nets has lead to a surge in animal deaths, with increasing numbers of vulnerable creatures getting caught and tangled in the deathly garden traps.
While the netting is successful at keeping away critters like birds, insects, cats, rabbits and hedgehogs, it can also trap and tangle animals, often killing them.
A wild deer recently lost its life in Somerset when it became tangled in a net and suffered severe injuries, while a woodpecker got caught in a net and died in Devon.
Explaining the sad trend, RSPCA Inspector and animal rescuer, Marije Zwager, said, “Netting like this is potentially lethal to wild animals and birds. They can end up with life-threatening injuries by getting their legs, wings or beaks tangled in the netting or, if not spotted by anyone who can help free them, they can eventually starve to death.”
Speaking to Devon Live, the wildlife protection advocate added, “Unfortunately, we get called to a lot of incidents where wildlife have got themselves caught in netting and as a result suffer fatal injuries from struggling to get themselves free like this poor woodpecker.”
Experts recommend opting for a densely woven net instead of thin ones that easily tangle, in order to cover plants.
You should also ensure that covers are tightly attached to the ground so that little animals can’t climb underneath.
Alternatively, you can protect fruit growing on trees with individual fruit bags – soft, fabric bags that keep your product safe from the beaks of hungry birds.
Other RSPCA tips on how to make your outdoor space safe and suitable for wildlife include replacing cat and dog toxic pesticides like slug pellets with things like broken egg shells, coffee grounds or sand.
It’s also recommended that you check in piles of leaves for animals like hedgehogs before disposing of them as well as checking for frogs and toads in greenery before mowing or strimming it.