TECHNIQUE

Catching Using Hand-held Nets (Wildlife Casualty Management)
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Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B. This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Handling and Transport which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description
  • Study the situation and assess the following factors:
  • Confined space or risk of escape?
  • Size and strength of the animal to be caught.
  • Long legs (which may be injured during catching)?
  • Degree of mobility of animal to be caught (speed of movement, ability to fly, climb or jump).
  • Pattern of movement (particularly in a confined space where movement patterns will be repeated): e.g. the same perches being used in each circuit, the same points where direction changes etc. - these may be useful guides for likely capture points.
  • In a semi-confined space, likely escape routes the animal may head towards: these need to be blocked or can be used as a site for netting (see point (2) below).
  • Hazards to be avoided (e.g. low beams, furniture, branches, logs, bushes, ponds etc.)
  • Choose a net of appropriate size, handle length and net characteristics (mesh size and cord thickness, or opaque material weight/strength).
  • Decide on an appropriate strategy and, if more than one person is involved in the capture, make sure each person knows what they are to do (e.g. net the animal, herd the animal towards the catcher, control the animal once in the net.)
  • Ensure any container for the animal is ready with its lid/door open.

Techniques for capture include the following:

1) Method suitable for catching an animal against a solid surface: bringing a net directly down over the animal on the ground, wall, fence or other surface, so that it is trapped between the net and the surface.

  • Hold the net firmly in place with the rim on the ground or surface.
  • Have a second person control the animal through the net.
  • Once the animal is under control, loosen the hold on the net allowing the rim to leave the ground/surface, then:

    a) Disentangle the animal from the net, if necessary, with care and place in a suitable carrying container.

    OR

    b) Manoeuvre into a suitable carrying container, close the lid/door as far as possible, let go of the animal while keeping the lid down/door closed, pull the net out and fully close the lid/door.

2) Method suitable for catching an animal in an area with only one escape route, in which the catcher can be positioned (preferably hidden) along the only apparent escape route), or when an animal is repeating a particular pattern of movements within a confined space.

  • If necessary, have an assistant(s) encourage the movement of the animal towards the catcher (person holding the net).
  • Swoop the net down directly in front of the running/jumping/flying animal such that it propels itself into the net.
  • Immediately either

    a) flatten the rim of the net to the ground, as above and proceed

    OR

    b) twist the handle of the net by 90 or more so that the animal is enclosed within the bag of the net and the exit is blocked.

    THEN:

    a) Control the animal by hand through the net (often requires a second person). Once the animal is under control the net may be untwisted, then:

    1. Disentangle the animal from the net, if necessary, with care and place in a suitable carrying container

      or:

    2. Keeping control of the animal and without taking it out of the net, manoeuvre the net and animal into a suitable carrying container, close the lid/door as far as possible, let go of the animal while keeping the lid down/door closed, pull the net out the smallest possible gap and fully close the lid/door.

    OR

    b) the animal may be transferred directly from the net to an appropriate container with minimal handling (not appropriate if the animal may be tangled within the net or where risk from escape of the animal is high, but may be less stressful for the animal), either:

  1. the net is manoeuvred quickly into an appropriate container for the animal, the lid/door of the container is closed except for the small gap left for the net handle, the net is then untwisted, the animal allowed to move out of the net, the net is pulled out and the lid/door closed fully

    or

  2. the net is positioned with the rim against the opening of the container, the free end of the net (containing the animal) is grasped and moved so that the exit from the net is no longer blocked, the animal is allowed to move from the net into the container, the lid/door is closed onto the net, the net is pulled out the last opening and the lid/door fully closed.

3) Two-net approach method suitable for an animal in the open, with only one chance for capture.

  • Position two people with nets, one on either side of the animal (or for one person, a net in each hand may be possible), then:

    a) The first person swoops with his/her net and may capture the animal.

    OR

    b) As the animal flees away from the first net, the second net is moved so that its escape takes it straight into the second net. Then block the exit from the net by twisting the handle as above.

    OR

    c) (e.g. if the animal is not sufficiently far inside either net) Bring the rims of the two nets together and hold together until a position is reached such that the captured animal is properly within one net and the exit may be blocked in the usual manner.

4) Method for catching a bird on water.

  • Slide the net into the water from land or from a boat and bring the net up under the bird, lifting it clear of the water and twisting the rim to block escape.
  • This method is not often practical.

Additional notes:

  • If a net of opaque material is used, it is important to identify the orientation of the animal within the net before attempting to control it. Gentle poking with a stick (NOT a finger) will usually elicit a response identifying the position of the head.
  • If a mesh net is used the animal must be disentangled from the net WITH CARE, particularly for long-legged animals. First the animal must be under control, then the limbs and/or digits should be removed from the net, one limb/digit at a time, keeping the animals head and limbs under control at all times. Covering the eyes of the animal may keep it quieter while this is being accomplished.
Appropriate Use (?)
  • For a wide variety of species.
  • Most useful in confined or semi-confined situations.
  • May be used by a single person (depending on circumstances).
  • Assistance by a second person is preferable in many circumstances.
Notes
  • If a net of opaque material is used, it is important to identify the orientation of the animal within the net before attempting to control it. Gentle poking with a stick (NOT a finger) will usually elicit a response identifying the position of the head.
  • If a mesh net is used the animal must be disentangled from the net WITH CARE, particularly for long-legged animals. First the animal must be under control, then the limbs and/or digits should be removed from the net, one limb/digit at a time, keeping the animals head and limbs under control at all times. Covering the eyes of the animal may keep it quieter while this is being accomplished.
  • If possible, a range of nets should be available, including nets with adjustable-length handles, so that a net can be used which is appropriate for the size and strength of the animal being caught.
  • Small species should be caught with a net with a small mesh size/cord thickness, or using a net of lightweight opaque material.
  • Large, strong species require a mesh constructed from thicker cord, usually with a larger mesh size.
  • Nets may be home-made by removing the strings from an old tennis racket and wiring a strong hessian or jute sack into place on the rim. (D26)
  • The bag of a net should be sufficiently long than, once an animal has entered, turning the rim by 90 closes the net with the animal held inside the hanging bag of the net.
  • Proficiency at capturing using a net increases with practice.
  • Prolonged chasing of an animal around an area using a net should be avoided.
  • Where two or more people are involved, teamwork is essential.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Chasing with a net is likely to cause a degree of stress to the animal being caught.
  • An animal may become highly stressed if chased with a net for a prolonged period.
  • Not useful for very large and strong species such as large deer.
  • Limited use for highly mobile species in a large area.
  • Risk of damage, particularly to small animals, from pinning between the rim and a solid surface (risk decreased by using a net with a padded rim).
  • Risk of an animal injuring itself (including risk of broken limbs and capture myopathy) if it is allowed to struggle against the net (decreased by choosing the right mesh size/fabric for the species).
  • Risk of birds of prey puncturing their own feet with their talons while being disentangled from the net.
  • Risk of injury from the animal to the person removing it from the net. This includes bites, kicks, scratches, talon punctures etc.
  • Risk of escape of the animal if the net is of the wrong mesh size or material of insufficient strength for the animal being caught.
  • Risk of escape after capture if the net is incorrectly used. Most commonly, not keeping the rim of the net against a solid surface until the animal is fully in control, or not twisting the rim of the net sufficiently to block the animals escape from the net.
  • Depending on species and circumstances often a second person is required to control the netted animal after capture.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Specialist suppliers provide catching equipment and will sometimes build to order. One example of a Specialist Equipment Suppler is: MDC Exports Ltd, Unit 11, Titon Court, Laporte Way, Luton BEDS, LU4 8EF.

  • Hand held nets are available in a wide variety of sizes and with different handle lengths.

  • Nets may have a padded or unpadded rim

  • Nets may be made of mesh of various weights and sizes

  • Nets may be made of opaque material of various thicknesses.

  • Nets may be purchased from e.g. avicultural suppliers and some pet shops.

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • May be used by anyone, but proficiency increases with experience.
  • Large heavy nets and nets on long poles require more practice for efficient use.
  • The catching of difficult species i.e. fragile/long legged and particularly strong/aggressive species with a net, should be performed by someone with previous experience.
  • Agility, speed and the ability to anticipate the movements of the animal concerned are important to minimise risk and maximise efficiency of net capture.
Cost/ Availability
  • Cost varies greatly.
  • Nets may be home-made.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • The animal being caught may be seriously injured if a net is used inappropriately, particularly with fragile species. This includes very small species and long-legged species such as deer and many wading birds.
  • People catching the animal may be injured if insufficient care is taken during the capture process.
Author Debra Bourne (V.w5)
Referee Suzanne Boardman (V.w6), Becki Lawson (V.w26), Dr Virginia Pierce (V.w73)
References J3.147.w1, V.w5, V.w6, D26

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