Every year we get calls from gardeners about snakes trapped in their soft plastic landscape netting. Landscape netting is often used to protect fruit and vegetables from nibbling deer, birds, and rabbits. Unfortunately, it can be a death sentence to snakes, birds, and small mammals.
Small animals become trapped in the net and as they struggle to free themselves, get even more tangled up. The netting not only traps the poor animals, it also causes very serious injuries due to the thin plastic cutting into their skin and muscle.
If a human does not intervene, it is a long, slow and sad death for any trapped creature. Some animals are lucky – they are found and rescued. Recently our very own TuataraTony was called upon to rescue two copperhead snakes that had become entangled in landscape netting in a garden in Great Falls VA.
Tony and other professional Naturalists, Wildlife Educators and Animal Rehabilitators are experts at handling all sorts of animals. If you find a creature in need of rescue, contact your local animal control agency for help.
Alternatives for protecting crops do exist: Fences 8 feet tall or taller will protect areas from deer. Using chicken wire, wire mesh, kennel fencing, or snow fencing attached to fence posts will protect against most animals, including rabbits.
If deer are your main problem, you might also consider an electric fence. Motion sensors that trigger a blast of water can scare off birds and other wildlife from fruit trees and bushes. And a good old fashioned scarecrow (especially if it has bright, shiny, moving parts) is always a festive addition to any garden.
Here are some great links for more suggestions on how to save your garden without hurting snakes or other wildlife: