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Wise up over killer litter

Last modified: 12 November 2010

Greylag goose portrait

The greylag goose that was rescued on the Black Lough, Co Armagh, last Tuesday (10.11.10) was lucky. Every year thousands of birds, seals, fishes and other unique and endangered wildlife fall victim to our thoughtless behaviour when we litter.  

According to a statement issued by the USPCA and RSPB, our careless habit of littering and dumping waste not only blights our landscape, but also poses a serious health hazard for wildlife. 

“The goose had its beak stuck in a beer can,” said Stephen Philpott, Director, USPCA. “It was eventually rescued and is now recovering. But it was the one that got away, others unfortunately are not so lucky. Every year we come across scores of birds and other marine wildlife, not to mention other domestic animals and pets, which have suffered long and painful deaths due to the disgusting habit of littering.” 

Dr James Robinson, Director RSPB, also added, “Littering and illegal dumping on land or at sea doesn’t only pollute these fragile habitats. It poses a real threat to individual animals as well. Dissections of marine birds like fulmars that have died of malnutrition reveal that there can be as many as twenty or thirty bits of plastic and rubbish in their guts. The birds fill up on indigestible plastic and eventually die of starvation. We ask people to wise up to the dangers of killer litter – it affects everyone.” 

The USPCA, the animal welfare organisation that rescues animals in distress, were alerted to the bird’s plight in the morning. 

“We had to watch the animal suffer helplessly because it did not understand what was going on. People who litter should come out with us and see the effects of their handiwork,” said Stephen. “Very often, even after we have rescued the animal, it does not survive due to the injuries that have been inflicted on it. Prevention is better than cure – do not litter.”

“The RSPB does not rescue birds, but we do campaign for robust, beautiful and thriving environment,” said Dr Robinson, “We ask people to think about how their waste is being disposed of and make sure it does not damage the environment.”

If you see an animal in distress call the USPCA on 07739 948 520.

Wise up over Killer Litter

To ensure the well being of our pets and wildlife, litter should be disposed of safely and responsibly:

Plastic bags – these can trap and suffocate animals that climb inside.  Tie a knot in the bag and dispose of them appropriately in litter bins, or, alternatively, recycle them. 

Tin cans – these can cut and trap animals. If it is not possible to recycle your cans, remove the lid completely, drop it into the bottom of the can and pinch the top of the can shut.

Yoghurt pots – animals can get their heads stuck inside.  Remove the lids completely and squash together the pots.

All food containers that are thrown away should be washed prior to being discarded, so as to reduce the chance of attracting animals.

Plastic drinks can holders (four plastic rings) – these ‘four pack’ can holders can easily become tangled up around animals or even strangle them.  Cut the loops holding the binding together before you throw them away.  Alternatively, purchase drinks with a cardboard carrying box that can be recycled.

Glass – this can cause serious injuries to both animals and people and is also a fire hazard.  It should never be left lying around.  Glass bottles can be recycled.  Plastic bottles can also be recycled, but if this is not possible, cut the bottles in half before you throw them away – this will stop small animals becoming trapped inside.

Other articles that are hazardous to animals include:

Elastic bands – these can trap and entangle animals.  Please cut them up before you put them in the bin.

Solvents and sump oil – can pollute streams and rivers if they are poured down the drain.  Some garages have collection points for sump oil, which can then be recycled.

Unwanted fishing tackle – hooks, lines etc can seriously injure and even kill water birds and other animals.  Take fishing tackle home and dispose of it safely.

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