The animal welfare charity the RSPCA has teamed up with Keep Wales Tidy to support their Spring Clean Cymru campaign - as the animal welfare charity reveals it receives more than 200 calls a year about litter impacting animals in Wales.
Since 2017, 1,012 such incidents have been reported to the RSPCA in Wales, with pets, wildlife and other animals too often affected by carelessly discarded rubbish.
RSPCA Cymru has seen animals endangered as a result of discarded fishing litter, face masks and abandoned children’s toys in recent years. Spring Clean Cymru, which the RSPCA is backing, is part of the Great British Spring Clean and Caru Cymru; Keep Wales Tidy’s biggest ever initiative to eradicate litter and waste in Wales.
Caru Cymru has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
As part of this year’s Spring Clean Cymru, the RSPCA is backing calls for individuals, households, schools and community groups to sign up to the ‘The Big Bag Challenge’ and pledge to act between March 25 and April 10 this year, by picking up a bag or more of litter.
Those interested in supporting Spring Clean Cymru, and the wider Great British Spring Clean, can pledge their support via the RSPCA’s volunteering website.
RSPCA behaviour change campaigns manager Carrie Stones said: “Our emergency line is averaging more than 200 calls each and every year as a result of animals in danger from litter in Wales - and sadly many more are likely to go unseen.
“These problems are so easy to avoid - and that’s why we’re so pleased to team up with Keep Wales Tidy to promote their Spring Clean Cymru; as part of our backing for the Great British Spring Clean.
“Our plea to prevent animals from suffering like this is simply to join us in Spring Clean Cymru and to help us Keep Wales Tidy.”
Keep Wales Tidy chief executive Lesley Jones added: “Since the start of the pandemic our outdoor spaces have mattered to us more than ever before.
“Yet, litter still blights our green spaces, streets and beaches across Wales, not only costing us millions to remove but sadly harming our local wildlife as well, as we can see from these saddening statistics.
“We encourage everyone across Wales to get involved with our Spring Clean Cymru campaign this year and help protect our local wildlife from the dangers that litter poses. Together we can make a big difference.”
In July last year, a crow was rescued by the RSPCA after getting stuck in a tree on an island in Buckley in North Wales.
The crow’s wing had been caught in the tree due to fishing line; highlighting the dangers discarded angling litter can pose to local wildlife.
RSPCA inspectors Mike Pugh and Andrew Broadbent headed to the scene to help the stricken bird, and waded through the pond in their dry suits and safety equipment to reach the island.
One officer controlled the bird with a pole net, while the other was able to cut the fishing line to release the crow from the branch.
The bird was then transferred to the charity’s Stapeley Grange wildlife centre in Nantwich for a period of rehabilitation and care.
Fortunately, the rescue was a success as – after a period of time in RSPCA care – the crow was returned back to the wild.
Inspector Mike also raced to the aid of a swan, who got a discarded foam play square stuck around her neck in July 2020.
Fortunately, the swan was uninjured and the foam could be safely removed and the bird immediately returned to the wild - but the incident shows the risks everyday discarded objects can pose.
Mike said: “All too often, our officers are getting call outs to animals needlessly put at risk through litter.
‘‘From fishing litter not cleared up, to discarded toys, I’ve seen first hand the problems these items pose to animals.
“I continue to urge people to reuse, recycle or responsibly discard materials; and to read the RSPCA’s advice on how littering affects animals, and what people can do to stop it.”
More information on the RSPCA’s advice regarding animals and litter can be found online.