Urban Kings: Project Update

The Dangers of Landscape Netting in your Garden

By Samantha Kennett, Wildlife Technician at CNC
July 28, 2020

On June 26, 2020, technicians for the Urban Kings Project received a call from a concerned community member. They were excited to report the Kingsnake they’d found in their yard, but troubled by the fact that it was trapped in plastic landscape netting.

This individual was rushed to the Chattahoochee Nature Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic to remove the netting and assess the deep wounds created by the rubbing and constriction of the plastic netting. Upon further examination, it was determined that this snake was not only female, but gravid and full of eggs.

X-ray taken of CNC rehab case 20-0111. Notice the misshapen egg that was constricted by the plastic netting.

She was continuously monitored for any change in her condition while both CNC and the Urban Kings Team remained hopeful that she would survive laying her eggs. After 11 patient days, Kingsnake 20-0111 laid all 17 of her eggs successfully. Upon the writing of this article, her condition is continuing to improve at CNC’s wildlife clinic while her eggs are being carefully incubated by the Urban Kings team to ensure the best chance of hatch success.

Kingsnake 20-0111 safely laying her eggs at the CNC Wildlife Clinic.

For this Kingsnake, her story has a happy ending. However, this is not always the case. This year alone, the Urban Kings team has received no fewer than a dozen reports of Kingsnakes stuck in plastic landscape netting, and Kingsnakes aren’t alone. This material is a death sentence for any snake if undiscovered, especially in these intense Georgia summers. Small mammals, birds, and sometimes even deer can fall trap to this garden protecting material. Just this month, CNC’s wildlife clinic received a Red-bellied Woodpecker whose neck and feet were ensnared in the netting.

Red-bellied woodpecker brought to CNC tangled in plastic landscape netting.

This material is often used for large-scale erosion control as well as small-scale application in protecting produce and plants in backyard gardens. As you make plans to protect your garden from birds and deer this summer, consider looking into alternative options. One alternative is an insect mesh which has significantly smaller holes so that snakes and birds are less likely to get stuck. There is ongoing research in erosion control blankets to find better and cost-effective solutions to this human-wildlife conflict.

If you’re out getting your nature on and you find an animal trapped in landscape netting, please contact the CNC Wildlife Clinic immediately at 770-992-2055 ext. 239. If your trapped animal happens to be a Kingsnake, please contact the Urban Kings Project at the contact information below.