Birds trapped in elevated netting

Netting is commonly used to prevent birds roosting or nesting on buildings and under bridges. Unfortunately it is very common for birds to become tangled in the netting. They can suffer severe injuries and even die without help. Frustratingly, the netting is often too high up for members of the public or even rescues to reach and specialist equipment is often required.

The first thing to know is that the building/bridge owner is legally responsible for the netting and any birds who become trapped in it. Once trapped, wild birds receive protection under the Animal Welfare Act which protects them from unnecessary suffering. Start by contacting the RSPCA (0300 1234 999) to ‘log’ the incident and get an incident number.

Then, where possible, alert the owner of the building/bridge to the issue so that they can arrange for the company which put the netting in place to remove it. Be sure to let them know that you have reported it to the RSPCA and tell them the incident number. This should help to ensure they take the issue seriously.

If you cannot contact the owner, they refuse to take action, or they don’t or cannot take prompt action, then get back in contact with the RSPCA and your local police force’s Wildlife Crime Officer (contact them via 101). They should then be able to arrange for the fire brigade to attend and release the bird.

After being freed, the bird should ALWAYS be checked by a wildlife rescue. They may be injured but even if they appear unharmed they’re likely to be shocked, exhausted and dehydrated. They should be allowed to rest and recuperate before having to face life in the wild again. Check out the ‘Finding Help’ section below for help with this.

If you have trouble getting the owner, police or RSPCA to intervene, there are some groups who can help to apply pressure.

Nesting Not Netting Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/788233511559514

Foundation for Feathered Friends – https://www.facebook.com/FoundationForFeatheredFriends or email them here

Finding Help #

You can find details of rescues in your area by searching our directory. If you're unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, we have information about sources of bespoke help. We also have articles with detailed, practical advice about capturing an animal, providing short term care, contacting a wildlife rescue, and getting the animal to them.

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Updated on May 6, 2024
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