The RSPCA is urging people to dispose of their waste carefully as more than 300 reports were received about animals affected by litter in Wales.

Despite people being in lockdown during significant parts of 2020 and 2021, the animal charity received 305 litter-related animal welfare reports in Wales, with animals found severely injured, trapped, mutilated, choked, or dead.

The charity received 157 reports relating to animal welfare in Wales in 2021, an increase from the 148 reports made in 2020.

In total, the RSPCA took 7,441 calls about animals affected by litter in 2020 and 2021 from across Wales and England.

The RSPCA is urging people to join the Great British Spring Clean’s ‘Big Bag Challenge’ from 25 March to 10 April, which involves picking up any litter that they see lying around as well as ensuring that they take their litter home with them or dispose of it properly.

RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “Our staff deal with a worrying amount of incidents every year where animals 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.

"It's a problem on all of our doorsteps - from city centres to the countryside and beaches - so all of us can do something to help.

"Spring is an ideal time to go on a litter-pick because it's before the breeding season when young animals such as fox cubs start getting into trouble, and litter will be more visible in hedges before the vegetation really starts growing.”

Western Telegraph:

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

Nearly 40% (2,882) of all litter-related calls to the charity across England and Wales in 2021 were regarding animals that had become caught in fishing litter.

These include a seal who died from suffocation after an old fishing line became tangled tightly around its mouth and dozens of swans who swallowed or were pierced by old fishing hooks or became entangled in fishing lines.

Evie said: “Animals who get their heads or necks stuck in litter can suffer severe injuries as they struggle to break free and can even suffocate, while others will slowly grow weaker and weaker as they try to hunt or find food or water.

“Others will get fishing line or netting cutting deep into their skin, affecting circulation and with wounds becoming seriously infected.

"These hazards can very quickly become a matter of life or death for these animals and action is urgently needed to tackle this problem head-on. It’s up to every one of us to do our bit in the war against litter.”

"The majority of anglers do dispose of their litter properly and it is frustrating that those who don’t possibly don’t realise how dangerous it is to animals.

"Discarded line in particular is a terrible hazard for wildlife, particularly as it can be almost invisible."

Western Telegraph:

She added: “We strongly urge those who enjoy fishing to be extra cautious to make sure nothing is left behind.

"Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but it only takes one piece of snagged line to be left in a tree or dropped near the water to endanger the life of an animal.

"We ask that all those who enjoy fishing to follow the Angling Trust Anglers Against Litter campaign and make use of the recycling scheme to dispose of their waste tackle.”