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".
Hi Lolly, thanks for sharing this with us. What do you think to the response?
A very small number of incidents each year!!! What is that all about? one per year is to many ,I for one will not be purchasing anything from them ,and I hope lots of others take the same action
IMHO 'a very small number of incidents each year' is too many to take the risk.
In my experience, if you give people a chance to go wrong then they may well do so.
They might not be around when the bags are empty so don't remove them. Or the weather might be bad and they might think they don't need to remove them until some other time. Either way an unnecessary risk is then being taken.
Gardman and the BTO need to send a message that is absolutely clear. The only way to eliminate the risk completely is to not sell fat balls or other products in mesh bags.
If they have a reason for preferring to sell them in mesh bags, then I would like to know what it is.
I'm not surprised at Gardmans reply but i am surprised at the BTO siding with them.
I for one wont be buying Gardman stuff again after that response.
Would be interesting to know how they can state there are a " very small number of incidents" - I presume the number of these incidents would be very difficult to monitor in wild birds, therefore numbers are probably much higher.How do they reach this conclusion?by research?, Complaints? For a leading company in bird products to give such a lame response is not good enough!
I have been thinking about this all afternoon. I have to say I am impressed how quickly they replied but utterly dissapointed in their reply and to state that Gardman "believe that the benefits of feeding fat balls in mesh bags far outweigh the very small number of incidents each year."
There should be in my opinion no incidents.
I also wonder what the BTO will make of the statement. In all fairness to BTO, Gardman is talking on their behalf and it will be interesting to see what response I receive from BTO directly.
Basically I believe the reply from Gardman as a total fob off and they will take no further action to stop selling mesh nets. As a large stockist they should be taking full reponsibility and I wonder who carried out the research in to the very small incidents of birds being harmed.
I trully believe if they were supplying merchandise for children and there was a safety issue the product would be recalled immediately but as it is wildlife to which they are supplying it certainly in their eyes is not important.
Gardman basically states that if the consumer stops buying the suet in mesh bags they will stop supplying. I think as a responsible company they should be making the decision and leading the way not the consumer.
I like Woodpecker would like a reason for them preferring to sell them in mesh bags which Gardman did not answer.
Lordy! What an appalling response! I am particularly disappointed that the BTO continues to support Gardman. I am in touch with a former director of the BTO and current member of staff and will express my disappointment when we next meet.
Thank you Jenny. If you need a photo copy of the letter Gardman sent let me know.
Hi Ian, i was just thinking about the campaign the RSPB is doing in newspapers etc. I watched Autumnwatch on Friday and was very interested in the article regarding the hibernation of hedgehogs. Would it not be possible for the RSPB to get a mention on the show regarding the mesh bags. I have emailed the show on their website but with the amount of emails they receive I think mine will be lost. Just an idea and the RSPB will reach a lot of viewers in a few seconds.
I'd question something else about the letter.
Gardman say that they and the BTO believe that there are benefits in feeding fat balls in mesh bags - so what are they, and for whom? I can't think of any!
Good point Sue.
SWT recommend mesh bags as they reduce the chance of transmitting Trichimonas.
Hi Alexandra. I have, this morning, looked on the SWT website and could find no mention of trich and mesh bags. Would you be able to post a link or give me more info on where you read this. Thank you.
The Gardman reply does not surprise me,they sell loads of fatballs to people who would never dream of buying a holder for the fat balls.I have not seen anything in the BTO magazine that gives views on the matter one way or the other.
The view from SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust?) is interesting and may be relevant
SWT of course Scottish Wildlife Trust. Getting too late now and brain not working. Will look in to what they say.
Sue CGardman say that they and the BTO believe that there are benefits in feeding fat balls in mesh bags - so what are they, and for whom? I can't think of any!
I wonder if it's possible that the benefits in supplying fat balls in mesh bags might not necessarily be wild bird orientated?
For example, if they happened to contain a relatively high proportion of sand, then they might be less likely to fall apart during storage and distribution if they were supplied in mesh bags. Also, by the same token, they might be less likely to fall apart during bad weather if they are used in their mesh bags.