COLUMN: Summer sports net danger for animals

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As a summer of sport kicks off, the RSPCA has revealed more than 1,000 animals were rescued from sports and other netting last year - with a spike in the warmer months.

Shocking photos released by the charity show how easily animals can get tangled in sports or garden netting - which can result in fatal injuries.

In total, 1,032 animals were rescued from netting by RSPCA officers in 2016 and the RSPCA is urging people to put their nets away when they’ve finished using them to prevent injuries to wildlife.

The number of netting rescues RSPCA officers carry out increases drastically in the peak of summer. Last year in July, 198 animals were rescued after getting tangled in netting - compared to 20 in January.

Sports netting, such as football and tennis netting, and pond and fruit netting are the main culprits which wildlife are rescued from.

We hope that these photos will shock people and make them realise the damage that netting can cause. Sadly, it is something that our officers see an increase in at this time of year. Some animals survive, but very sadly many animals suffer fatal injuries, often as a result of struggling to get free.

There have been instances, for example, of fox cubs strangling themselves to death because they have been trying to free themselves. It doesn’t take too long with them thrashing about trying to escape before they become seriously trapped and are then unable to free themselves.

If they go unnoticed even for a short time, they can really suffer. The tight net can cut off the blood supply to their limbs, damage bones where they have tried to frantically escape, or worst of all, they could be strangled to death.

There is one simple way to prevent this from happening - please remove sports nets after use and store them safely away. It only takes a few minutes and yet it could save an animal from suffering a horrible death.

Where netting can’t be removed, such as pond or fruit netting, we recommend replacing them with solid metal mesh.

If you see an animal tangled in netting, do not try to free them yourself - call the RSPCA immediately on 0300 1234 999.