RSPCA received 70 calls about animals affected by litter in Nottinghamshire last year
A duck tangled in a medical face mask, a baby hedgehog with plastic wrapped around her neck and a gannet entangled in plastic are just some of the ways animals have been affected by litter in the last year.
And the RSPCA is urging people to help protect animals by picking up any litter they see lying around as well as ensuring they take their litter home with them or disposing of it properly and responsibly.
Last year the RSPCA received 70 calls relating to an incident where an animal has been affected by litter in Nottinghamshire.
Adam Grogan, head of the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Our staff deal with thousands of incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter, and they’re the ones that we know of.
“I’m sure for every animal we’re able to help there are many that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives.
“Litter is one of the biggest hazards our wildlife faces today and the pandemic has just added to the problem with many disposable masks just being discarded on the ground.
"These are a new danger to animals and we’ve been called out to rescue animals like ducks and gulls caught up in the masks’ elastic straps.
"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.”
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 and hooks to plastic netting.
Nearly 40 per cent of all litter-related calls to the RSPCA last year were about animals that had specifically become caught in fishing litter, from a seal being strangled by old fishing net to dozens of swans who swallowed or were pierced by old fishing hooks or became entangled in fishing line.
Adam said: “If members of the public see discarded litter we would encourage them to pick it up safely and put it in the bin, remembering to wash their hands after. Their action could save an animal’s life.”