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".
Best wishes Lolly
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Hi Lolly,an appalling response to your concerns,how about we all write to Gardman voicing our concerns ? this will show that its not just you who is concerned even though its a good idea by you and I applaud you for it,if we all contact them they might stop using mesh bags.just a thought.people power
Hi Roger, I sent mine off today!! hope they take some notice, if lots of us send in our letters of disgust they might have a change of packaging.
Work is for those people that don't Bird-watch!!!!
If you prefer you could write your letter to Gardman's CEO, Mark Pearson.
I did send mine to Jane Lawler ,but I will also send one to Mark Pearson as well ,thanks for that bit of info Lolly
I have this morning received my response from Homebase.
I am hoping that it is not just a standard letter that customer services send out.
I can only add that I am really happy with their reply and I am very pleased they are contacting thier suppliers to inform them of our concerns. No mention of them removing the mesh suet and other netted products from their shelves but I think it is a good start.
I have uploaded it as a picture so please click the letter and it will open larger.
If anyone would like to write to Homebase their address is:
Homebase, Customer Srevices, Sue Robinson, Acton Gate, Stafford, ST18 9AR
This letter looks like a standard Customer Service response to me. They are hoping you will go away and that will be the end of it. It may be helpful to find out which the "relevant department" is and continue correspondance with that department, insisting on an answer as to what they intend to do. What do others think?
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Hi Lolly, interesting letter, the pertinent thing I read from it is, that the relevant department will contact their supplier.
So now perhaps we would like to know what the response will be from their suppliers ?
Making Homebase aware that you would like notification of said response as you will publish it on the RSPB Forum.
Also if the response to Homebase by the supplier was that they would not change their practices, would Homebase change their suppliers in light of the valid concerns raised.
Keep up the good work
How about the RSPB starting an e-petition they require 100,000 signatures for it to be debated in parliament, seeing they have over a million members why not send out a letter or email asking for people to sign it.
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Hi Sparrow and Borderlass
Both your points are excellent and I will use both of your suggestions in my reply to Homebase. Borderlass you have really done all the hard work for me highlighting the information we need to know from Homebase. Will hopefully get this drafted up for Monday.
what about the RSPB putting an advert in the main newspapers and on TV,If places like Gardman and Homebase and others who sell and supply goods in mesh bags think it may hit sales they may do something quickly
I'm just posting an update to let you know where we stand with the mesh bags issue at the moment, sorry if it turns into a bit of an essay!
Our media teams around the country issued a press release highlighting the dangers of mesh bags and other garden hazards to wildlife. We were pleased to see that it got some coverage in national press and it may have reached some local media channels as well. You can read the press release on our website here.
With regards to starting an e-petition, we have had a word with our government affairs team and they would prefer to approach this from a different angle, we are exploring ways to get it raised during parliamentary questions. However, if you wish to set up such a petition independently. we would be happy for you to promote it on the forums.
The poster idea is still one we are giving some thought to, i’ve been in touch with a number of departments about that and may be able to do something although I cannot promise anything as yet, sorry to keep treading water on this but it has thrown up a few complications!
You may have already seen the poll we created yesterday asking if bird food should come with or without mesh nets on. If this shows a massive swing in the favour of mesh free bird food then it would give a bit of added weight to the campaign. If everyone who realises the threat mesh bags can cause to wildlife adds their vote to this poll and gets any friends or relatives to do the same, this poll may then be a good way of illustrating that many people are concerned about this. If you do write to any manufacturers or retailers about mesh bags on bird food, please point them in the direction of the poll. Click here to go to it.
The RSPB has been in touch with a number of bird food companies in recent years about the issue of mesh bags and unfortunately we have not been able to persuade them that the dangers warrant the removal of the mesh bags. Ideally we would need to have further evidence of a continued threat to wild birds from the use of mesh bags before we approach the companies again, they already have the information that between 2004 and 2008 11 birds at least were reported to the RSPB wildlife enquiries team after becoming entangled in mesh bags, including several starlings, blue tits and sparrows. Obviously this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as not everyone will report these occurences to us.
Please note the earlier request for anyone who has encountered these problems to send in an account of the incident and pictures if at all possible. We would also welcome the comments from these organistions on the forum should any representatives wish to discuss this openly. We may be competitors when it comes to selling bird food but at the end of the day all we are trying to do is to help wild birds feed in the safest way possible and i'm sure that the other bird food retailers want to do the same.
So please vote on our poll, write in to retailers and manufacturers who still sell these products and if you can educate the people still using them, please do so.
If we make any progress I will update you on this thread, thank you all for reading and thank you in particular to Lolly for her determination to make a difference.
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I received an email from Bob Martin late yesterday afternoon. below is the copy.
First Response from Bob Martin UK Ltd
Many thanks for your recent letter, in which you raise the debate concerning the use of nylon netting around the likes of suet balls and peanuts, whereby there is opinion that these may cause damage to the birds that feed on these products.
From our perspective we have never received any feedback that such netting has resulted in observed injuries to the garden birds. That said, this is not a denial that it happens, and we are obviously keen to ensure that injuries would not result from the use of said products. In that context I was interested to read the RSPB ‘Mesh bags – a warning’, which you kindly sent me. However, this appears to me to be a warning of theoretical injury, rather than a statement of fact – i.e. there does not appear to be any direct evidence that the use of nets on (e.g.) fat balls has been observed to cause such injury.
From a personal perspective I accept that nets in the garden can cause injury to birds: some years ago I netted a few raspberry canes in my garden, only to find, a day or two later, a blackbird with a broken neck. Since then I have never netted my soft fruit, as the incident saddened me. However, the net in that incident was somewhat disguised, being green and close to the ground, as well as being sizeable. I find it difficult to accept that clearly visible netting around a hanging fat ball could be similarly problematic.
Having said all that, I would be very interested to learn of any viable suggestions for alternatives to the use of netting around the fat ball, and would throw the question open: bear in mind that the balls need to be transported, and are friable, if they are not supported.
Technical and Regulatory Affairs Manager
Bob Martin UK Ltd
OK so The Burden of Proof lies with us now to quote a Scottish legal Term.
They want us to evidence any Injuries!
That's not an easy task for us, as we do not use netted products as we prefer the Prevention of Injury Method as opposed to lets react after an animal has suffered.!
What is interesting is that they are open to alternative suggestions as to how the products could be transported.
Any Ideas on that ?