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RSPCA reveal Norfolk has highest number of animals harmed by litter in East

PUBLISHED: 06:30 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:30 04 February 2019

A seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck. Photo: Glenn Mingham

A seal with a green plastic frisbee caught round its neck. Photo: Glenn Mingham

Archant

An increasing number of animals are being harmed by plastic litter, with Norfolk ranking the worst in the region for the problem.

A duck killed by plastic litter in Norfolk. Photo: RSPCAA duck killed by plastic litter in Norfolk. Photo: RSPCA

The RSPCA’s animal welfare charity’s latest data on litter related incidents revealed that despite a national fall in general litter since 2015, harmful incidents involving plastic waste had substantially increased.

In Norfolk, the figure had risen from 11 cases in 2015 to a whopping 34 last year, accounting for more than half of all litter incidents where animals were harmed.

In Suffolk, the number of plastic related incidents in 2018 was seven, compared to three in 2015.

Cambridgeshire saw 15 plastic incidents in 2018, Essex 11 and Bedfordshire had the lowest recorded number with six.

Across the whole of the East of England there were 45 incidents in 2015, but last year that rose to 91.

RSPCA head of Wildlife, Adam Grogan, said: “This shocking rise in plastic litter incidents suggests that plastic is a growing threat to animals.

“Every year, the RSPCA deals with increasing numbers of mammals, birds and reptiles that have become entangled or affected in some way by discarded plastic.

“From seals with deep infected wounds caused by plastic frisbees cutting into their necks, to swans and geese trapped in fishing line or netting, plastic is clearly having an increasing impact on animal welfare.”

The data also revealed that certain species, especially those living in water, were affected more than others.

Seals were among those particularly harmed by the increase in plastic waste, with the RSPA recording a fourfold rise in incidents.

Last month Dan Goldsmith, chairman of the Marine and Wildlife Rescue, said the organisation had seen an increase of seals rescued from entanglement, with rescues jumping to once a month.

Figures suggested plastic litter was also disproportionately affecting certain water birds, with incidents involving geese rising from 37 to 70 and swans rising from 40 to 48 across England and Wales during that same four-year period.

Mr Grogan said: “Our latest data sadly reflects the wider litter crisis taking place right now across the globe and action is urgently needed. It’s up to every one of us to do our bit in the war against litter.”

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