Do not litter - mind every critter


Broken glass is just as dangerous to animals as it is to people walking barefoot. Wild animals do not have the chance to see a doctor when a piece of broken glass or a broken bottle has made a cut in its paw. Tiny needlelike pieces of glass can pierce a paw.

Even unbroken bottles can be lethal traps to shrew-mice, mice, and moles. While looking for food, the animals may go inside the bottle and get trapped there, unable to climb up the slippery glass wall.

Hedgehogs, foxes, raccoon dogs, and cats, among other animals, may get their heads stuck inside empty cans while looking for food. Cans are twice as dangerous if the lid is still partly intact. The lid may prevent an animal from pulling its head or paw out of the can.

The plastic soda can holders can cause terrible damage to animals. Animals may get strangled in the plastic holders or starve to death because the holder is stuck around the beak or muzzle. Ducks get easily stuck in these plastic holders while digging in the shallow waters.

The aluminum soda can openers stuck in bird beaks have caused many deaths.

It has been calculated that it takes 450 years for plastic soda can holders, floating in the water, to degrade. All kind of plastic items, such as plastic bags, soda can holders, plastic ropes and strings, and balloons, are dangerous to animals. Birds, fish, and seals may die from swallowing garbage floating in the sea. A piece of garbage blocks or damages the digestive tract. Plastic items may gather in the stomach, cut the intestines or block the intestines completely. The animal starves slowly and painfully to death.

Plastic bags are dangerous also on the dry land. Animals may eat a plastic bag that has the scent of food and die from it. Animals may also swallow plastic bags inadvertently or get trapped inside them and choke to death. An empty bag of candy, thrown on the street, may get washed away to the drain and from there to the water system.

Fish hooks and fishing lines left on the ground get stuck in bird beaks, gullets, feet, and wings. Water birds as well as small birds, plovers, and mammals walking by the lakes, get stuck in these hooks and fishing lines.

Abandoned pieces of fishing nets floating in the water are a huge danger to all water animals.

Birds and mammals may get tangled with strings and ropes. City birds walking on the ground easily get strings stuck around their feet.

Discarded barbed wire acts as a trap for wild animals for decades.

Also items that have been left in the wrong place or are being stored incorrectly can be lethal to animals. Examples of such items include fish traps in shallow water or on dry land, fishing rods and lures carelessly left lying around, fishing nets hung up to dry, and protective nets spread over berry bushes.

Source: Finnish Association for the Protection of Animals (SEY), Kotkankatu 9, 00510 Helsinki, tel 09-8771200.

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