South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett, Essex, reports that thousands of animals perish annually due to litter-related incidents.

Manager Sue Schwar highlights litter entanglement, particularly in netting, as a leading cause of wildlife fatalities.

National Highways responds to this crisis with a new campaign aimed at combating littering.

The hospital emphasises the escalating severity of littering, posing imminent danger to wildlife with risks of fatal infections and choking.

Ms Schwar said: “Sadly litter affects wildlife very adversely, we get lots of animals getting caught up in discarded litter.

“Some of them we can save but they’re notoriously difficult to catch, and sadly we don’t and it does cause the death of many thousands of animals every year.”

She said glass bottles were “notorious” for trapping voles, and that many foxes had got “their heads trapped in plastic jars”.

“We’ve seen lots of animals die when they’ve got something like a constriction injury around their neck, particularly younger animals that get caught [in it] and it gets tighter and tighter as they grow,” Ms Schwar said.

Schwar underscores the peril posed by litter accumulation along major roads like the A12 and A13, especially as vegetation obscures the debris, making it harder for animals to avoid.

Additionally, entrapment in fishing lines and netting emerges as a significant concern.

Over the past three years, the RSPCA has documented over 10,000 incidents of animals harmed or killed by discarded litter. To address this issue, National Highways initiates measures such as deploying AI-enabled cameras and collaborating with local authorities for enforcement.

Trial efforts include utilising motorway message signs and geofencing technology to send reminders to motorists entering litter-prone laybys, urging them to responsibly dispose of their waste.



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