The fine art of fencing Night Parrots

about  Pullen Pullen Reserve  
on 14 Feb 2017 
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Fencing is a key activity on most of our Bush Heritage reserves, and many of our volunteers and donors can attest to the joy of putting them up, or more often, pulling them down.

Fences are vital infrastructure that keep feral herbivores out, and help manage their impacts on vegetation and critical habitats. At Pullen Pullen Reserve this poses a conundrum. We want to keep any stray herbivores out to protect the floodplains – which are significant feeding locations for the Night Parrot – but there's a small risk that a new barrier could create an unexpected obstacle for this species.

After advice from the Night Parrot Recovery Team, we decided to fit the new fencing with white electric tape (aka horse tape). This 40mm bright white tape runs along the top of the new fence to create a highly visible barrier. On top of this, bright orange flags are placed every 100m as a bit of extra flappy bird deterrent.

This fence is already constructed in a typically wildlife-friendly manner – only three strands with the top wire plain. A few weeks ago I went along with Matt Warr (Reserve Manager Ethabuka) and braved three days during one of the most brutal heatwaves in eastern Australia to fit 10km of horse tape along the new fence at Pullen Pullen. We got by on a strict diet of water, electrolytes and watermelon.

Bush Heritage will monitor the effectiveness of the fences, and make tweaks to the designs if necessary – though the long-term existence of many pastoral fences in the area means that these unnatural barriers in the landscape are well-known and avoided by nocturnal species.

As part of ongoing management of Pullen Pullen for Night Parrots, Bush Heritage will remove all the old internal fences including, in time, parts of the shared boundary with Diamantina National Park. Another quick win for conservation.

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