The effect of litter on wildlife has been devastating throughout the United Kingdom. In addition to being a visual atrocity for humans, wildlife are constantly injured and killed by scattered rubbish throughout their natural environment. Frequently, these animals are strangled, poisoned, sliced, and suffocated by the array of litter left behind by people. Every year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) receives thousands of reports from citizens who have discovered animals trapped in prisons made of litter. These numbers are simply estimates, as there are many animals that are confined or injured by stray garbage that are never found and rescued.
Types of Litter That Cause Injury
Many small and medium sized animals get constricted within cans, bottles, and other types of containers as they attempt to grab the leftover food left within them. This simple survival action of animals causes them to strangle themselves in an attempt to escape. Broken glass, wire, metal, cardboard, and plastic wire injures the feet, paws, and bodies of animals that travel though the area. The quality of water in the rivers and ponds diminishes as well due to floating litter and fishing tools left behind. Much of the food debris left behind becomes contaminated with microorganisms, and it can make the animals that feast on it become severely ill with food poisoning that leads to death. The wildlife also become less suited for hunting for their food independently, and come to expect and search for these deadly handouts from humans.
The Threat of Common Objects
In addition to the obvious rubbish, there are a number of everyday objects that are openly discarded that pose a threat to tender wildlife forms. Balloons and plastic bags are often mistaken for food and cause the animals to choke, while sky lanterns set free pose as dangerous contraptions to wildlife. Even digesting chewing gum can cause an animal to choke and die. Another threat of rubbish dumped outside by humans is that the paper litter can catch fire and burn down parts of the forest and ruin the abodes of the animals that live there.
Consequences on the Environment That Affect Wildlife
One of the worst consequences of litter is that it often remains in the environment for a long time to tempt and destroy unsuspecting animals that come across it. It takes many decades for most types of litter to break down on its own, and it will wreak havoc on a variety of wildlife populations until it disappears. The fragile ecosystems that wildlife thrive within continue to be adversely affected by the pounds of assorted trash carelessly thrown outdoors. The animal population suffers from the premature death of many members due to contact with hazardous litter.
There are a number of organizations like the RSPCA, the Falkirk Council, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), and Cleanup UK to combat the dumping of litter throughout the country. Rubbish that is properly thrown away or recycled will prevent the destruction of the natural environment and the death and injury of wildlife. It costs the UK government millions of dollars a year to clean up wildlife areas that are covered in garbage. To prevent the injury of wildlife, individuals must remember to cut up containers and as much as possible before throwing them away. The consequences of discarding litter are monumental on wildlife in the UK, but these animals can be saved from a terrible fate if citizens remember to dispose of their waste properly.