Shocking death of little fox cub tangled in garden football net triggers renewed warning

Shocking death of little fox cub tangled in garden football net triggers renewed warning

We're renewing our warning of the dangers to wildlife of netting after a little fox cub was strangled to death in a back garden football net.

Our officers recently attended a tragic scene in a North London garden after receiving a call from the worried home-owners about two entangled fox cubs.

Animal Rescuer Officer Holly Walker said:

It was a very upsetting sight. Two little fox cubs had become entangled in the kids' football net overnight. One of the cubs had already died from strangulation, the other was thankfully still alive but suffering from a severely swollen leg where the netting had tightened around it.  Their mother - the vixen - had been watching helplessly as one of her cubs gave up his fight for life.

That was the second incident in just one week I'd attended to help entangled baby foxes and my colleagues are also reporting they are being called out to multiple netting incidents. It's really important that people understand how lethal football netting can be and how often these incidents happen. Please, please remember to put your sports netting away after use and never leave it unmonitored, particularly overnight.

In 2021, we took 2,216 calls about animals - from foxes to hedgehogs - which had become entangled in netting. This year, those numbers could be even higher.  In just one week in May, a Surrey-based officer attended six separate entangled fox cub incidents - one of which sadly ended in another death - and the peak months of June and July are likely to be even worse.

Scientific Officer Evie Button said: "Football and other types of netting may be fun for humans but can be very dangerous for wild animals if they are left out overnight. The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals - often wildlife - who have become tangled in netting on sporting equipment or garden nets.

"Our officers are very busy attending call-outs to rescue animals caught up in sports netting and in the past couple of months, we have had a spate of young foxes, in particular, becoming entangled. At that age, they're very curious but unaware of the dangers.

"Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal, particularly one that's wild. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting - whether it's used for sports, fencing or the garden -  can cause severe injuries or - as seen recently - even death.

"As wild animals frequently get trapped during the night, they may have been struggling for many hours by the time they are found in the morning and often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free.

"It's great that people are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors and nature while having a kick-around. But we would urge those using sports netting to remove and store all nets after their game and put any discarded or old netting safely in a bin. Any garden fence netting should be replaced with solid metal mesh and use wood panels as fencing instead of netting."

Of the 519 incidents reported to us about wild mammals tangled in netting in 2021, 260 were related to foxes, 135 were hedgehogs and 60 to deer.