Keeping Wildlife Safe with Smart Waste Removal

Posted by David Moore on

While litter in parks and other natural spaces is certainly unattractive, it does more than simply spoil beautiful views for park visitors. In fact, litter can pose some serious dangers for wildlife. Even if park visitors are conscientious about removing their waste, it is not uncommon for refuse from nearby garbage cans to get blown into parklands where it creates problems for wildlife. Gaining a better understanding of how litter affects wildlife is the first step toward addressing the problem.

The Harmful Effects on Wildlife

Litter in its various forms can be very harmful to wildlife. Some real-life situations that are frequently observed include:

  • Fishing lines getting trapped in the legs, wings or neck of waterfowl.
  • Fishhooks getting stuck in the throats of birds.
  • Lead poisoning in birds caused by accidentally swallowing small lead fishing weights.
  • Broken glass cutting the feet of mammals.
  • Small animals getting caught inside of unbroken bottles, cans, and jars.
  • Mammals, birds, and fish getting caught in plastic six-pack holders.

Often, animals use litter in ways that are unhealthy or even dangerous to them. Food waste, for example, can be particularly problematic when wildlife consumes it.  The goods generally are not healthy for them to eat and can even lead to death. This is particularly true with deer, who are drawn to bread and sweets despite the fact that foods with a flour base can ultimately create a gummy mass in their stomachs. This mass interferes with digestion and can lead to death. Similarly, microorganisms found in food waste can lead to food poisoning. Of course, giving animals free handouts in the form of food waste also has a negative impact on their ability to hunt for themselves when the food supply is cut off.

How to Keep Animals Safe from Trash

To keep animals safe from litter, it is important to take steps to reduce the amount of trash you create. Using reusable water bottles and mugs, for example, will help to significantly reduce the amount of waste that you generate every year. When you do use bottles or jars, replace the lids before you discard them in order to prevent animals from becoming trapped inside. If you discard a plastic six-pack holder, cut the rings to prevent them from becoming traps.

To further assist with protecting wildlife from litter, you might want to consider examining the products that you use in order to determine if they use excessive packaging. If so, contact the company and encourage them to reduce their packaging. If they do not address the issue, consider purchasing alternative products that are more eco-friendly.

You can also help to protect wildlife from litter by using animal-resistant trash bins and recycling receptacles. This will help to ensure the animals are not getting into your trash and ingesting items that they should not. Of course, it will also prevent them from spilling the trash and spreading it around, thereby helping to keep your property clean and orderly while also preventing it from creating problems with other nearby wildlife.

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