Animals affected by waste plastic on the rise in the east of England

PUBLISHED: 11:09 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:09 08 February 2019

A seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck. Picture: Glenn Mingham

A seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck. Picture: Glenn Mingham


The number of animals affected by plastic waste in the East of England is on the rise - although Suffolk and Essex appear to bucking the trend.

A duck killed by plastic litter. Picture: RSPCAA duck killed by plastic litter. Picture: RSPCA

Figures from the RSPCA show the number of incidents of animals harmed by waste plastic in the east has risen from 82 in 2017 to 91 in 2018, with a big increase in incidents recorded north of the border in Norfolk.

RSPCA Head of Wildlife, Adam Grogan said: “This shocking rise in plastic litter incidents suggests that plastic is a growing threat to animals.

“Every year, the RSPCA deals with increasing numbers of mammals, birds and reptiles that have become entangled or affected in some way by discarded plastic.

“From seals with deep infected wounds caused by plastic frisbees cutting into their necks, to swans and geese trapped in fishing line or netting, plastic is clearly having an increasing impact on animal welfare.”

However, Essex’s figures show a glimmer of hope with the county seeing a fall in recorded incidents - from 28 in 2017 to 11 in 2018.

In Suffolk the figure has remained on par on the previous year’s figure of seven, although Suffolk Wildlife Trust says more needs to be done to reduce the impact our waste has on animal life.

A spokesman for the trust said the impact of plastic waste affects animals both in the sea and on land.

She said: “Millions of tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, breaking down into smaller pieces and eventually working up through the food chain with detrimental effect.

“But our terrestrial habitats are suffering too.

“Throw-away items are all too often found littering our road side verges, hedgerows and within the parks and recreation grounds of our towns.

“These green spaces are critical for wildlife and litter is an additional hazard on top of many threats even our most common species are facing. Hedgehogs can become stuck in elastic bands, shrews stuck in plastic bottles and birds tangled in fishing line.”

On Sunday, February 10, Suffolk Wildlife Trust trust are hosting a 2k litter pick in Ipswich - the distance the average hedgehog will travel at night in search of food or a mate.

They are meeting at Alderman Recreation Ground at 1pm, finishing the litter pick at La Tour Cycle Cafe for a hot drink and a slice of cake.

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