Bird caught in netting

Poorly Fitted Nets Threaten Bird Safety

In recent months, there have been distressing reports of birds – pigeons, seagulls, even the smaller birds that frequent our gardens – becoming trapped behind netting. Supermarkets, pubs, office blocks and railway buildings – all have come under scrutiny because the netting which may or may not have been professionally installed, is not fit for purpose. The ‘evidence’ is the number of birds either entangled in the netting or unable to find an exit point from behind it. What is the answer to this? One of the lead technicians at Hawkeye Bird Control believes it is incumbent on any organisation to do their due diligence before appointing a company to fit netting to protect a building, and to ensure the building is surveyed as netting is not always the best solution to the problem.

Why are we seeing reports of birds trapped in netting or behind it if a specialist has fitted it?

Fixing netting to the required standard takes time, patience, and experience. A company may use robust commercial-grade materials that outlive the standard 5-year guarantee. Although, If the installers don’t know how to fit the netting the likelihood is that birds will return to the newly netted space because the fitting is flawed. We’re often called to a building because of shoddy installation or poor materials, and we have to begin the process from scratch installing fit-for-purpose netting. When surveying the existing netting we usually find gaps at the sides and top big enough for birds to enter but they cannot escape from. If the netting is sagging this will also leave gaps and it becomes too easy for birds to become entangled on both sides. Sometimes the situation has gone unnoticed until a member of the public spots a bird in distress. Recently we were called to a supermarket where several birds were caught in the netting itself.

Who is responsible for this?

It is the responsibility of the pest control company or pest bird specialist to ensure the netting they install is fit for purpose and appropriate for that location. It is also the responsibility of the business to keep an eye on the netting. A bird may become trapped behind it and not because of poor installation. For example, we were called to a business in London where pigeons had been roosting in the roof eaves but were now trapped behind the netting. My take on this is that the netting installer should have undertaken a thorough survey of the site to ensure that when the netting was being installed, there were no birds that could be trapped behind it. All installers should go the extra mile and install a ‘Birdscape’ escape route so any bird can find the deliberate gap. We always use Birdscape.

Given the threat to bird life, is netting always the answer?

No, it is not. It is a sloppy company that chooses to net entire areas with little thought to the aesthetics of a building, how it is used and what widespread netting may do to bird life. As experienced bird specialists and netting installers we have a range of bird protection options of which netting is just one. When we take a call from a company asking for netting, our first response is to survey the area to build a detailed analysis of the ‘bird problem’ they have described but seen through our eyes. We don’t charge for this service because it allows us to present the solutions.

Can poorly installed netting be repaired?

Our view is always to repair and/or re-engineer a poorly fitted or broken net if possible. Sometimes a net can’t be repaired so we will replace it as the most cost-effective option, but only if we are certain that netting in that position is the best solution. Again, the site survey provides the answers!

Does legislation exist to penalise companies?

Pest control companies where birds have been trapped or entangled because of faulty fitting? Yes!

All wild birds, including pigeons and gulls, and their nests are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The act can be used when birds have become trapped behind or entangled within the netting. The buck stops with the installer.

Should professionally installed nets be maintained?

Yes, but we do not recommend that in-house caretaking teams do this for obvious safety reasons. We offer a maintenance service where for example we will ensure the fittings are still viable and that the netting maintains the correct tension. Once a net becomes loose, its life expectancy diminishes rapidly so regular maintenance is more cost-effective in the long run.

Do you need our help?

To arrange a survey with Hawkeye Bird Control please contact us. And talk to a member of our team if you are concerned about the netting on your building.

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