RSPCA issues warning over ‘lethal’ football nets after fox cub dies

The RSPCA have issued a warning over the dangers of sports netting after a fox cub was strangled to death by a football goal in a back garden. The charity received 2,055 calls last year regarding animals becoming entangled across England. In Oxfordshire, officers were called to 14 cases of animal entanglement in 2021.

While this figure was lower than some other counties, the incidents could have been avoided. The RSPCA has reported that the number of entanglement incidents this year are set to be even higher than those seen in 2021, with a Surrey-based RSPCA officer attending six incidents of fox cub entanglements in one week – one of which resulted in a fatality. The charity predicts that the summer months of June and July will be even worse.

READ MORE: Man has truck crushed after dumping mountain of waste outside primary school RSPCA animal rescue 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.”

A fox cub trapped in a netA fox cub trapped in a net

The area of England that saw the highest number of entanglement incidents in 2021 was Greater London, with 339 reports. It was followed by East Sussex with 119 incidents, and Devon with 118.

Evie Button, a scientific officer at the RSPCA explained that fox cubs were particularly prone to becoming caught in sports netting because of their “very curious” nature. She said the animals usually get “trapped during the night” meaning they could be “struggling for many hours” before they are found and usually “need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free”. She adds: “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 incidents reported to the RSPCA last year, 519 related to wild animals 260 were foxes, 135 were hedgehogs and 60 were deer.

To report concerns about an animal, call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

For advice, you can visit the RSPCA website.

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