How littering affects animals

Over a two year period, We receive on average nearly 7,500 calls about animals affected by litter and unfortunately, our wildlife are the main victims when it comes to people's rubbish - particularly wild birds.

On average, we receive 10 calls a day about animals affected by litter, and these calls spike in the summer months. And, as pet owners go directly to vets, and many injured wild animals are never found, it's estimated that the actual figure of animals injured by litter is much higher than we currently know.

If you've found a wild animal injured by litter report it to us today.

How can litter be dangerous to animals?

Everyday objects that seem perfectly safe can sadly become hazardous when found accidentally by animals. By disposing of our rubbish safely instead of littering, we're making choices that could save many lives.

Protecting animals from harmful rubbish is easy. Simply dispose of your rubbish responsibly by recycling, reusing or simply putting it in the bin! Here are some of the things that can harm animals if they find them and how you can help prevent them becoming injured.

Plastic bags

Animals can climb inside plastic bags and suffocate, or attempt to eat them and choke. Simply tying a knot in the top of plastic bags before recycling can help prevent deaths.

Plastic can holders

Animals can also get entangled in plastic can holders, and suffer deep wounds or even choke. Help prevent suffering by always cutting the loops before recycling.


While a nice touch at a party, animals can actually try to eat balloons and then choke or become impacted by discarded decorations. You can help protect animals by cutting up balloons before putting them safely into your bin. It's really that simple! 

Balloon releases are also very threatening to wildlife. Always deflate balloons and bin them once the party's over. Sadly, even balloons marked as degradable may take a number of weeks to degrade - yet it only takes a second for an animal to swallow a balloon.

Read more about balloon releases.

Chinese lanterns

Chinese lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, can seriously injure animals if they eat them or become entangled or trapped by them. Read more about Chinese lanterns and the environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Containers and cans

Animals looking for food can get trapped in cans or injured by sharp edges. To help prevent harm to animals, clean and empty containers after use, pinch cans shut and cut containers in half before recycling whenever possible.

Elastic bands

Elastic bands, although seemingly harmless, can wrap around small animals and the beaks of birds. If swallowed, they can also cause choking. By reusing bands where possible, or cutting them open before putting them in a bin, you can help prevent harm to animals.

Fishing tackle

Fishing litter is responsible for injuring thousands of wild animals every year, with animals getting entangled in line and hooks that can pierce skin or be swallowed. By fishing responsibly, you can avoid accidental harm to the local wildlife and environment.

Read our top tips for anglers and how to promote responsible fishing.


Broken glass can also cause serious injury, and animals can sometimes get trapped in jars. Be sure to clean and recycle glass to help prevent injuries and avoid unnecessary harm.

Follow the links below to find out more about how litter can injure animals and what to do if you find a wild animal that's been hurt.

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