The animal welfare charity is urging people to help protect animals by picking up any litter they see lying around as well as ensuring they take their litter home with them or disposing of it properly and responsibly
Adam Grogan, head of the RSPCA’s wildlife department, said: “Our staff deal with thousands of incidents every year where animals have been impacted by litter, and they’re the ones that we know of.
"I’m sure for every animal we’re able to help there are many that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives.
“Litter is one of the biggest hazards our wildlife faces today and the pandemic has just added to the problem with many disposable masks just being discarded on the ground.
"These are a new danger to animals and we’ve been called out to rescue animals like ducks and gulls caught up in the masks’ elastic straps.
"That’s why we’re calling on the public to get involved in the Great British Spring Clean to help remove litter that may endanger animals.”
In Lincolnshire the RSPCA received 94 calls in 2020 relating to animals affected by litter.
Adam said: “Animals who get their heads or necks stuck in litter can suffer severe injuries as they struggle to break free and can even suffocate, while others will slowly grow weaker and weaker as they try to hunt or find food or water.”
“These hazards can very quickly become a matter of life or death for these animals and action is urgently needed to tackle this problem head-on.”