Tag Archives: conservation

Do you use plastic shopping bags from the supermarket? Do you reuse them or put them in your rubbish? Ever see them blowing around the streets, or floating in waterways? Spare a thought for the environment the next time you accept a plastic bag from a supermarket, or anywhere you shop. There are now very efficient alternatives to plastic bags when shopping. Please choose them.

Here are a few shocking facts about plastic bags in our oceans:

  • 3.5 million tonnes of plastic bags are produced worldwide yearly. That's approximately 1 trillion plastic bags coming into the world every year!
  • Millions of tonnes of plastic are currently accumulating in the world’s oceans, causing massive ecological damage to water, marine life and other ecosystems.
  • Plastic survives a long time in sea water – much longer than on land.
  • If Columbus had dumped plastic bags into the ocean in 1492, fragments of his litter would still be drifting today!
  • Plastic bags and plastic debris is like a sponge in seawater, and soaks up generous pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from ocean water.
  • Seabirds eat pretty much everything floating on the water. They are now also eating and ingesting plastics in our seas, which is absorbed into their bodies. Evidence suggests this toxicity in seabirds is affecting their populations.
  • There are 7 species of sea turtles in the world, which have evolved over hundreds of millions of years. A major food source for them is jellyfish, but numbers are declining from toxicity and death from eating plastic bags floating on the water surface that look like jellyfish.
  • 6 of these 7 turtle species are now officially listed as at risk of extinction!
  • In Australia, marine life like seabirds, turtles, fish and even dolphins and dugongs are being injured and killed from eating plastic bags and balloons.
  • In countries where a tax was introduced for shoppers who choose plastic bags – such as in Ireland, where a 15 cent per bag tax is charged – the use of plastic bags has dropped 90%. Why aren’t we doing this in Australia?
  • Other countries have banned plastic bags completely, including developing nation Bangladesh. If they can make such as a difference, with a poor economy and development, surely wealthier countries can achieve this easily.

The 500 Year Shopping Trip

Almost every person in Australia uses an average of 300 plastic bags a year. That’s around 6 billion plastic bags all together. The early plastic shopping bags can take up to 500 years to decay in landfill. There is an alternative. It’s called a reusable shopping bag. And all major supermarkets now sell them for just a couple of dollars. Not only will using one help the planet, but your shopping is not likely to burst through the bag and roll around on the floor.

Every year, thousands of animals face a cruel death on barbed wire fences. Barbed wire is a major hazard for our wildlife, and not just small animals, but large ones too like kangaroos. Entanglement on barbed wire, usually the top strand, results in a cruel slow death, most often from starvation, or being attacked and eaten by other animals. Over 70 species of Australian native wildlife have been identified as regular victims of barbed wire fences, especially nocturnal animals like bats, possums and owls. Most fail to see fence wires and birds and bats get caught on windy days. Many animals rescued from fences are too badly injured to ever be returned to the wild, further decreasing wild numbers.

Kangaroos get hung up in fences, plain or barbed wire, on either top strands that are too high to clear or bottom strands too low to go under. Wetlands fenced off too close to the water level prevent water birds like cranes from landing or taking off, and even drown some animals trying to cross fence lines.

But there is an alternative - wildlife friendly fencing (WFF). Wildlife friendly fencing:

  • Does not entangle or harm wildlife
  • Allows the appropriate free movement of wildlife across rural and urban landscapes and may mean no fence at all
  • Does not use barbed wire, especially on top strands of fences, which are hotspots for wildlife injuries and death – hotspots include ridgelines, feed trees, wildlife corridors, new fences and fences over or near waterways

What can we do to protect our wildlife? Some solutions include:

  • Using split polypipe over wire at hotspots
  • Choosing wooden fencing over wire
  • Hanging old CDs and DVDs from fences to alert and deter birds, bats and other animals, and make fences more visible, even at night
  • Use electrical fence tape as the top strands instead of wire

What can we do if we don’t have WFF?

  • Make your fences as wildlife friendly as possible
  • Monitor fences, especially barbed wire fences, in your area (daily if possible)
  • Encourage landholders to go ‘wildlife friendly’
  • Encourage your local natural resource management groups to promote WFF
  • Distribute WFF brochures and info when you can
  • Visit www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com for advice and info. They also sell t-shirts, car stickers and other products to help spread the word
  • Report all entangled animals to your local wildlife rescue service or the RSPCA. Visit www.fauna.org.au
  • Please do not attempt to handle or rescue wild animals of any kind yourself

The consideration of wildlife on our farms, whether urban or rural, should also extend to fruit tree netting. Never use monofilament netting. Be responsible when netting your trees and garden, and check for trapped wildlife daily.

For more info please visit www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com

If you find an injured or sick flying fox or any bat, please contact the Bat Rescue Hotline urgently on 0488 228 134 and for more info please visit www.bats.org.au