NEARLY 400 calls in Hampshire have been made to the RSPCA about animals found severely injured, trapped, mutilated, choked or even dead from carelessly discarded litter over the past four years.

Out of all the counties in England and Wales, Hampshire is the eighth worst for litter-related animal incidents with 395 reported to the RSPCA over that time period.

The shocking new data - released by the charity - also reveals that it received an average of 13 reports per day last year during the peak months of May, June, July and August, when there is a particular litter hazard for animals.

Distressing incidents dealt with by the RSPCA include a hedgehog entangled in old barbed wire, a fox cub with litter caught round his neck, a goose with an old drinks can stuck to her lower beak and a Great Black Backed Gull whose leg became almost completely detached due to old fishing line cutting in. 

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Basingstoke Gazette: Animals rescued by the RSPCA

RSPCA anti-litter campaigns manager Carrie Stones said: “Our rescuers deal with thousands of avoidable incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter.

“Old drinks cans and bottles, plastic items and even disposable vapes are just some of the items that pose a danger to our wildlife - including hedgehogs, deer and foxes. Animals can ingest the litter or become entangled, leading to injuries, mutilations and even death.

“Sadly, for every animal we’re able to help there are probably many others that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives.

“But the public can help us protect animals, and avoid these incidents happening in the first place.

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“Spring is an ideal time to go on a litter-pick because it falls before the breeding season when young animals such as fox cubs are at risk of getting into trouble, while litter in hedges will be more visible to pickers before the vegetation really starts growing."

Now - the RSPCA is urging people to help create a better world for every animal by getting involved in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, taking place from Friday, March 15 to Sunday, March 31.

Individuals, groups or schools can pledge their support - and say how many bags of litter they intend to pick up - with more than 400,000 collected in total last year.