I have written many letters to manufactures, stockists and organisations that endorse these companies regarding the danger of mesh bags.
I received the first response back from Gardman today. Below I have copied their reply.
"Many millions of fat balls and other bird food products in mesh bags are sold every year and the number of incidents is incredibly small. Gardman and it's advisors, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), believe that the benefits of feeding fat balls in mesh bags far outweigh the very small number of incidents each year. If consumers are concerned about the very small risk of birds becoming trapped they can easily be removed from the mesh bags and placed in specific feeders or fed loose on a bird table or the ground. We do have a statement on our products saying the fat balls are best fed from a feeder and that the nets should be disposed of as soon as empty. We have also started selling tubs of fat balls without the nets and if this is the way consumers wish to go we will increase how many we sell in this format. I can assure you that Gardman and the BTO are very concerned about bird welfare and all of the comments received from consumers are passed on so that they can be considered at our yearly range review meetings".
This is almost a duplicate of the letters I received.
Thank you for posting it.
Hi Lolly was it the same person Ann Nasmith signed it or a different one?
The first letter i got back from Gardman was signed Kerri Barlow, Customer Services Administrator and the second letter was Jane Lawler, Marketing Director.
Below is a response from Jane Lawler of Gardman to an email I sent.
Dated 5 Jan 12.
Thank you for your recent letters to my Customer Services Team. I have read the contents of your letters, and discussed it with them and I felt it would be appropriate for me to respond to your latest letter to clarify the Gardman policy.
Can I firstly say that it is good that there is interest in this issue, and I am always pleased to receive feedback and comment from our customers, especially loyal and knowledgeable customers. I am also very disappointed when users of our products are in any way dissatisfied and sincerely hope that you won’t exercise your ultimate sanction in ceasing to buy Gardman products. I hope you’ll agree with our view that we offer the highest quality and most comprehensive range of wild bird care products available in the UK. Through the choice we offer, I hope we can meet the needs and expectations of most customers.
On the subject of netting on fat balls, we have been well aware of the debate underway and we have taken the care to review feedback from a variety of sources. It is important that we make our own technical and business decisions based on facts and hard evidence, as well as taking into account the majority view of all our customers. So, I think it might help you understand our policy on this matter if I provided you with a few of these relevant facts.
· Gardman sells around 34million fat balls every year so this is a very significant part of our business and provides an enormous amount of supplementary food for millions of garden birds
· Last year only around 25% of Gardman fat balls sold were non netted, although this proportion is increasing very rapidly every year
· Our customer services department receives around 30,000 queries and requests for help from member of the public every year. We have received one report of a bird being fatally trapped in a netted food product in the past year.
· We have asked RSPB to provide their statistics on the incidence of garden birds being trapped in netted fat balls, but they have been unable to provide this data to us
On the basis of this evidence I cannot accept the statement that “netting that surrounds fat balls, peanuts and seed is one of the most dangerous things we can put into our gardens”.
I hope you will see why, on the basis of the evidence we are aware of, we have decided to take a cautious approach to the removal of netted fat balls from our range. As Ann explained, we are working with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), which is a science-based research organisation, to develop plans on how to help consumers make the switch from netted to non netted fat balls. Next year, we will offer all pack sizes and varieties of fat balls in a non-netted option, and we have already helped a very large garden retail chain move over to selling exclusively non-netted fat balls.
Of course, we are not an exclusive supplier of these products, and our retail partners have plenty of other options when sourcing their suppliers. If you check the products on sale in several high street multiple chains, the larger DIY stores, and Supermarkets you will find many are still promoting the netted varieties sourced from a range of other manufacturers.
I was also grateful for your comments on our website and we will certainly consider your suggestion to add further information about the relative benefits of non netted fat balls.
One last thing I must point out in case there is potentially a more dangerous misunderstanding is that the photo you provided a link to on the RSPB website (photograph of a trapped Starling) does NOT show a plastic netted food product. Ironically, the product featured in that photograph is a poorly designed special metal feeder for fat balls. This is particularly worrying as all the advice from those wishing to promote the exclusive use of non netted products is to use a proper feeder. Clearly on this evidence it is just as important to check that the feeder you are employing has been carefully designed to be safe for the birds (which this one is not). All Gardman wild bird feeders (and foods) are tested and approved by the British Trust for Ornithology to ensure that they are safe and effective.
I sincerely hope you will feel that you can remain a customer of Gardman in future, and if you are interested in becoming more closely involved in the testing and trials of new wild bird care products as part of a consumer feedback panel, please do let me know. Together with the scientists at BTO we are always keen to find knowledgeable wild bird feeding consumers who can test new products and give us the valuable feedback we need to continue to improve our range. Thank you once again for getting in touch.
Thank you Gardenhobbit for posting the Gardman response that you previously emailed to me.
All taken care of, I really did not think that they would cause an issue of safety for birds, but I can see your point. Anyway all removed, and all of the fat balls left in my tub are also now net free.
All I have to do now is address the ridculous amount of cats that my neighbours own. Apparently vasaline on the trunk of the bird table will do the trick.
I've seen cats jump up onto a 6ft fence. Vaseline won't be much deterent.
It will if you put it on their paws! Sorry - couldn't resist.... :-)
LOL you two!!!
Or a huge rabid foaming at the mouth dog who has not been fed for a month.
I have suggested light heartedly if a couple of them could invest in bells, but it fell on deaf ears me thinks.
Seriously though they are such a pain, and why do they insist on using my daughters veg patch as a loo.
I always buy fat balls in big tubs, However, I would suggest that companies selling theses balls in nets would warn people of the dangers to birds and the possible alternatives for dispensing them to birds.