Fox cub strangled by garden football net triggers renewed RSPCA warning 

Lifestyle / Sun 7th May 2023 at 08:54am

THE RSPCA is renewing its warning about the dangers to wildlife of netting, after a little fox cub was strangled to death in a back garden football net.

The animal charity attended the tragic scene in a South London garden after receiving a call from the worried homeowners about three netting-entangled fox cubs on Wednesday 19 April.

Now, the charity hopes its push to recruit Wildlife Friends as part of the Big Help Out will help spread the message as to the dangers everyday netting – like football goals – poses to the wildlife who share our communities.

Speaking after the incident in South London, RSPCA animal rescue officer Jade Guthrie said: “It was a very upsetting sight. Three little fox cubs had become entangled in the kids’ football net overnight. Their mother – the vixen – had been desperately trying to free her cubs but could only watch helplessly as one of them gave up his fight for life.

“The other two were thankfully still alive and I was able to gently cut away the netting that was trapping them, before letting them dash back to the safety of their Mum and into the wild again – but sadly, these incidents happen far too often

“That was the second incident in just one week I’d attended to help entangled baby foxes and my colleagues are also reporting they are being called out to multiple netting incidents.”

As part of the ‘Big Help Out’ – the nationwide volunteering initiative to mark the King’s coronation – the RSPCA is urging animal lovers to sign up to become Wildlife Friend volunteers. Putting netting away after use to prevent wild animals getting entangled is just one of the many things volunteers can do to help our native wildlife.

The animal welfare charity hopes the public can help it spread the message about the dangers of football netting – with encouraging community action for wildlife one of the key tasks for the charity’s ‘Wildlife Friends’ initiative.

RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said “It’s really important that people understand how lethal football netting can be and how often these incidents happen – particularly at this time of year, when the curiosity of young, inexperienced animals gets them into potentially deadly situations.

“We’re urging the public to help us spread the message – remember to put your sports netting away after use and never leave it unmonitored, particularly overnight.

“It’s really heartening that more than 600 people have already signed up to be RSPCA Wildlife Friends, as part of the King’s Big Help Out – and they can help us spread the message about the dangers of wildlife, and ensure some of these totally avoidable incidents we deal with every single year stop happening.

“We all share our neighbourhoods with wonderful wildlife and we need to protect them – and by becoming an RSPCA Wildlife Friend, people can learn how to join with their community to make their area a safe space for the animals sharing our world – and that starts with making sure netting like football goals is safely put away after use.”

Of all our wild mammals, foxes and hedgehogs are the most likely to become tangled in netting.

In 2022, the RSPCA took a total of 1,798 calls relating to all species of animals which had become entangled in netting; of those, 315 were wild mammals and included 167 foxes and 62 hedgehogs.

The charity is braced for another very busy period, as its historical data shows that May is a peak month for netting entanglements, when inexperienced and curious young animals venture out and about for the first time. Already this year in just one single week in April, the charity’s records showed that as well as the sad death of the entangled fox cub in South London, ten other cubs were thankfully rescued unharmed from nets.

Evie added: “Football and other types of netting may be fun for humans but can be very dangerous for wild animals if they are left out overnight. The RSPCA receives many hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals – often wildlife – who have become tangled in netting on sporting equipment or garden nets.

“Our officers are very busy attending call-outs to rescue animals caught up in sports netting and at this time of the year, reports about young foxes becoming entangled tend to rocket. At that age, they’re very curious but unaware of the dangers.

“Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal, particularly one that’s wild. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting – whether it’s used for sports, fencing or the garden – can cause severe injuries or – as seen recently – even death.

“As wild animals frequently get trapped during the night, they may have been struggling for many hours by the time they are found in the morning and often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free.

“It’s great that people are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors and nature while having a kick-around – and we love to see that. But we would urge those using sports netting to remove and store all nets after their game and put any discarded or old netting safely in a bin. Any garden fence netting should be replaced with solid metal mesh and use wood panels as fencing instead of netting.

“Fortunately, there’s loads of great ways to help wildlife and help us spread the message. Animals lovers can find out more about how to help wildlife and mark the King’s Coronation by visiting our website and becoming an RSPCA Wildlife Friend.”

Other recent incidents of fox cubs entangled in netting which the RSPCA has been called out to include;

A baby fox cub with football netting wound tightly around his neck. The cub was rescued by RSPCA animal rescue officer Kirstie Ormerod, and thankfully survived. (April, Kemsley, Kent)
Two fox cubs caught in netting who struggled to get free, before RSPCA animal rescue officer Dale Grant rescued them. Thankfully, the cubs were unhurt – video available (April, Camden, N London NW3)
For advice on what to do if you see a wild animal in distress, please visit the RSPCA’s website.

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1 Comment for Fox cub strangled by garden football net triggers renewed RSPCA warning :

2023-05-07 13:00:22

Such a truly heartbreaking story and totaly unavoidable. People need to be much more aware of the beautiful wildlife that is all around us and the way their habitat is getting built on, there will be nany more foxes etc going into peopkes gardens. We all need to think more and do our bit. Take toys etc anything that could cause harm to any animal indoors overnight or put away in sheds. We need to pritect our beautiful wildlife.

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