Yes, if you use the correct netting and install it properly, backyard fruit tree netting can be ‘wildlife friendly’. However, if not used in the correct manner, netting can pose a serious risk to wild animals. For example, flying foxes, birds, possums and even pythons can become entangled and can potentially sustain severe injuries (e.g. broken bones, lacerations to wings and also mouth injuries caused by trying to escape). If injuries are severe, they can die from strangulation, blood loss, shock, or dehydration. Entangled animals are also at risk of being attacked by dogs, cats and other animals (e.g. crows, eagles).
Newer types of fruit tree netting are densely woven and have a small mesh size (less than 1cm square). It is usually white, so is easily seen by animals at night. If you are using this type of wildlife friendly netting, you can drape it over the entire tree. For information on how to do this see: https://www.greenharvest.com.au/DownLoads/WildlifeFriendlyNettingBrochure.pdf
Some of the older types of netting are much less safe. When using monofilament netting, including black, green and knitted netting, it should always be installed tightly over a frame that surrounds the fruit tree. These older types of netting should never be draped directly over the tree.
It important to check netting regularly, preferably no less than twice daily. If you find an entangled animal, contact an Australian wildlife rescue volunteer near you by visiting the Australian Fauna Care Network at https://www.fauna.org.au or contact your local parks and wildlife office. Do not attempt to release it yourself. Wildlife carers have the skills to handle native wildlife and determine whether any further treatment is required.