Kent and Hampshire among top ten places with biggest litter problem injuring animals

A fox cub with litter caught round his neck Credit: RSPCA

Kent, Hampshire and East Sussex have all been named among the top ten places where litter is injuring animals.

The RSPCA said it has received almost 13,000 reports about animals found hurt, trapped, choked or even dead from carelessly discarded litter over the past four years - including 526 reports in Kent, 395 in Hampshire and 399 in East Sussex.

Hedgehogs, foxes and deer are some of the worst affected, while amongst wild birds it's swans, pigeons and gulls, but the charity also received reports of family pets being affected by litter.

A goose with an old drinks can stuck to her lower beak Credit: RSPCA

The new data shows that the animal welfare charity received an average of 13 reports per day last year during May to August, when there is a particular litter hazard for animals.

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 Friday 15 March to Sunday 31 March).

Last year 400,000 bags of litter were collected by individuals, groups and schools.

A hedgehog entangled in old barbed wire Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA anti-litter campaigns manager, Carrie Stones says: "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."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."

The RSPCA also sees many animals arriving into its care with injuries caused by angling litter such as discarded fishing line, hooks and plastic netting.

Around 40% of all litter-related calls to the charity last year were about animals that had specifically become caught in fishing litter.

Carrie continues: "Old fishing lines 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."

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.

They warn that discarded biodegradable food litter also poses dangers, putting many animals at risk of road traffic collisions.

Carrie says: "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."

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