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Essex amongst highest number of reports to RSPCA about animals affected by litter

Lifestyle / Tue 12th Mar 2024 at 10:02am

THE RSPCA has received almost 13,000 reports about animals found severely injured, trapped, mutilated, choked or even dead from carelessly discarded litter over the past four years.

And out of all the counties in England and Wales, Essex took sixth place in the league of litter-related animal incidents with 428 reported to the RSPCA over that time period.

The shocking new data – released today by the charity – also reveals that it received an average of 13 reports per day last year during the peak months of May, June, July and August, when there is a particular litter hazard for animals.

Now – the RSPCA is urging people to help “create a better world for every animal” by getting involved in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean‘ (from 15-31 March). Individuals, groups or schools can pledge their support – and say how many bags of litter they intend to pick up – with more than 400,000 collected in total last year.

Distressing incidents dealt with by the RSPCA include a hedgehog entangled in old barbed wire, a fox cub with litter caught round his neck, a goose with an old drinks can stuck to her lower beak and a Great Black Backed Gull whose leg became almost completely detached due to old fishing line cutting in. 

Amongst mammals, litter-related reports to the RSPCA were highest for foxes, hedgehogs and deer, while among wild birds, swans, pigeons and gulls bore the greatest brunt of discarded rubbish. The RSPCA even received reports of family pets such as cats and dogs being affected by litter.

The ten counties* with the biggest litter problem, based on reports to the RSPCA over four years, are: Greater London (1,439), Devon (594), Kent (526), Greater Manchester (500), West Midlands (437), Essex (428), East Sussex (399), Hampshire (395), Merseyside (362) and Cornwall (300).

RSPCA anti-litter campaigns manager Carrie Stones said: “Our rescuers deal with thousands of avoidable incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter. 

“Old drinks cans and bottles, plastic items and even disposable vapes are just some of the items that pose a danger to our wildlife – including hedgehogs, deer and foxes. Animals can ingest the litter or become entangled, leading to injuries, mutilations and even death.

“Sadly, for every animal we’re able to help there are probably many others that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives. 

“But the public can help us protect animals, and avoid these incidents happening in the first place.

“Spring is an ideal time to go on a litter-pick because it falls before the breeding season when young animals such as fox cubs are at risk of getting into trouble, while litter in hedges will be more visible to pickers before the vegetation really starts growing. That’s why we’re calling on the public to get involved in the Great British Spring Clean to help remove litter that may endanger animals.

“But it’s also really easy for the public to help at all times of the year. When people are out and about, we urge them to hold on to their litter until there is an opportunity to dispose of it safely and responsibly – or recycle where appropriate. As we all strive to create a better world for every animal, this could save an animal’s life.”

As well as everyday rubbish, the RSPCA also sees many animals arriving into its care with terrible injuries caused by angling litter such as discarded fishing line, hooks and plastic netting. Around 40% of all litter-related calls to the RSPCA last year were about animals that had specifically become caught in fishing litter.

Carrie continued: “Old fishing line can cut deep into the flesh of water birds like swans, geese and ducks, affecting circulation and causing wounds to become seriously infected. We even see birds that have swallowed barbed fishing hooks. These hazards can very quickly become a matter of life or death for them and action is urgently needed to tackle this problem head-on. It’s up to every one of us to do our bit in the war against litter.”

The RSPCA says a majority of anglers are careful when fishing – but a small number are letting the community down by not disposing of their waste properly and leaving animals in danger. 

Carrie added: “The majority of anglers do dispose of their litter properly and it is frustrating that those who don’t possibly don’t realise how dangerous it is to animals. Discarded line in particular is a terrible hazard for wildlife, particularly as it can be almost invisible.

“We strongly urge those who enjoy fishing to be extra cautious to make sure nothing is left behind. Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but it only takes one piece of snagged line to be left in a tree or dropped near the water to endanger the life of an animal. We ask anglers to follow the Angling Trust Anglers Against Litter campaign and make use of recycling schemes to dispose of their waste tackle.”

The RSPCA is also warning that discarded biodegradable food litter also poses dangers – putting many animals at risk of road traffic collisions. 

Carrie said: “Many will be surprised that biodegradable food litter can be as dangerous to animals as other litter. If an apple core or fruit peel is thrown from a passing vehicle or discarded by the roadside, it can attract many kinds of wildlife – from mammals to birds – and put them in danger of passing vehicles.”

We ask anyone who finds a small sick or injured wild animal to take it to the vets, so they can get help quickly. Find out more here. Every time a wild animal is helped by the public it frees up our vital specialist rescuers to reach animals suffering heartbreaking cruelty and neglect, a job no other charity does.

This year the RSPCA celebrates its 200th birthday. To mark this special anniversary the animal welfare charity wants to inspire one million people to join their movement to improve animals’ lives. To find out how you can join their million-strong movement for animals visit www.rspca.org.uk/200

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1 Comment for Essex amongst highest number of reports to RSPCA about animals affected by litter:

Eddie
2024-03-12 14:20:28

Harlow is full of litter bugs , I am forever picking up after them outside my property.

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