Barb Busters

Barbed wire removal for the benefit of wildlife on working farms

Barb Busters

Barbed wire removal for the benefit of wildlife on working farms

Taking Action -


The issue

It has been estimated that tens of millions of kilometres of fences now subdivide the Australian landscape, with sixty five percent of these having barbed wire on the top strand. Each year thousands of native animals face death or injury from entanglement on barbed wire fences. Nobody really knows the extent or how many.

More than 75 wildlife species have been identified in Australia as occasional or regular victims of barbed wire fences. Both mammals (25 species) and birds (50 species) are victims and most are nocturnal. The Squirrel Glider and its smaller cousin the Sugar Glider are particularly vulnerable. Other mammals such as flying-foxes and insectivorous microbats are also common victims, as are the macropods – wallabies and kangaroos, and nocturnal birds such as the insectivorous Tawny Frogmouth, as well as owls (some of which are listed as Threatened Species) are particularly vulnerable.

The solution

The Barb Busters working bee was organised after the owner discovered an animal's tail hanging from a barbed wire fence on her property. The tail was later confirmed to be that of a Squirrel Glider, a species listed as Vulnerable in NSW. As Squirrel Gliders live in family groups, it was imperative to remove the barbed wire before more became entangled.

Young Landcare members and friends turned out for the working bee and removed more than three kilometres of barbed wire from the internal fences which will still provide adequate containment for the sheep on the property.

The impact

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage recommends replacing the top one or two strands of barbed wire on fences with regular wire, in and adjacent to known Squirrel Glider habitat to reduce mortality.

The actions of Barb Busters are directly contributing to positive outcomes for threatened Squirrel Gliders and other species impacted by barbed wire. Removing barbed wire reduces injuries to animals that would otherwise take up resources of WIRES carers. Barb busters is a practical activity that empowers people to make changes that improve wildlife habitat.

Key facts

  • Three kilometres of barbed wire removed from one property
  • Improved habitat for threatened species
  • Providing the community with a practical activity that has direct benefits for wildlife

Project Partners