We've received more than 21,600 reports of animals injured or caught in litter over the past five years, our new stats reveal.
We're urging people who are going out more since lockdown restrictions were eased to ensure they're taking their litter home with them or disposing of it properly and responsibly.
Over the past five years (2015-2019), our emergency hotline in England and Wales has received 6,466 calls about animals affected by general litter - like tin cans, plastic bottles and elastic bands. There have also been 15,183 reports relating to animals injured or caught in angling litter. There have been a further 12,904 reports of animals and birds trapped in netting, which includes netting discarded as rubbish but this also includes sports netting or netting put on bushes or trees to deter birds.
Our frontline officers are regularly called to help cats, birds and wildlife who have got themselves tangled in netting, injured in fishing litter or stuck in rubbish. They can find a fox with a tin can stuck on its head or a seal with fishing netting wrapped around its neck cutting into the flesh.
Head of our wildlife team, Adam Grogan, said: “Our staff are dealing with thousands of incidents every year where animals and birds 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 it's something that's very easy to resolve. That's why we're calling on the public to take extra care to clear up after they've been out for a walk or enjoyed a picnic in the woods. Now that the Government has eased some of the lockdown restrictions, we're sure lots of families will be out and about in nature. But it's our job to protect nature and that includes properly and responsibly disposing of our litter so that animals can't be hurt.”