Thousands of birds and animals die every year on barbed wire fences, snagged by a barb and unable to free themselves. Once caught, usually on the top strand of barbed wire, many become further entangled as they struggle. They die of their injuries, of starvation, or as easy prey.
More than sixty species of wildlife are known to be at risk from barbed wire fencing entanglement. Local observations include gliding marsupials, bats, ground-dwelling birds, water birds, night birds and birds of prey. Two of our special locals, the Little Red Flying-fox and the beautiful Squirrel Glider are frequent victims, with their flying membranes and fur easily snagged by the sharp barbs.
Barbed wire fencing was once considered the gold standard for farm fencing, and is ubiquitous in the Australian countryside. These days it is recognised as unnecessary and dangerous to both livestock and wildlife, and there is a wide range of more appropriate fencing types to choose from.
Parklands rangers have been unpicking this dangerous heritage by removing barbed wire from fences across the regional bush parks and reserves. This week in Albury Environmental Lands, this kookaburra had the last laugh watching the final remains of a fence being rolled up for disposal. The growing Squirrel Glider population will never know the agony of ending their life caught up in barbs.