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Vineyard netting proves deadly for birds

Netting placed incorrectly over vines to deter birds from eating the grapes often turns into a death trap for the animals.

This content was published on August 13, 2009 - 16:36

BirdLife Switzerland says thousands of birds, including endangered species, get caught in the nets and die painfully.

The organisation has now issued an appeal to winegrowers to follow the official guidelines for erecting nets.

According to a study by the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, only around five per cent of 228 vineyards investigated had netting that had been mounted correctly.

Nets were either too slack, left lying on the ground or had the wrong sized holes making it easier for animals to become trapped.

Not only grape-eating birds like starlings, sparrows and blackbirds are killed, but kestrels, hoopoes, cuckoos and wrynecks have also been found dead.

And nets left lying on the ground pose a threat to hedgehogs, BirdLife said. Trapped, the small mammals often lose their legs and are put out of their misery only when predators arrive to devour them.

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