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RSPB: careless disposal of plastic bags puts marine birds at risk

Last modified: 10 July 2014

Red throated diver, summer plumage, wing flapping

Red-throated divers are one of many species at risk from plastic bags

Image: Roger Wilmshurst

RSPB Scotland has spoken out about the danger of plastic bags to Scotland’s wildlife after a visitor to the Western Isles photographed a rare red-throated diver with a plastic bag in its beak. The bird was seen on a loch in a remote part of North Uist.

Jamie Boyle, site manager of the RSPB’s Uist reserves, said, “We urge people to take great care in the way they dispose of plastic bags or, indeed, any other rubbish, particularly balloons and Chinese lanterns. They pose a direct threat to our wildlife and it is depressing to think that plastic bags are even reaching remote lochans in a place like North Uist.

“Marine birds such as red-throated divers are particularly at risk both at sea and on their breeding grounds where they can mistake the bags for fish or mistakenly use it for nesting material. If it becomes entangled on their legs or heads it can prove fatal.”

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