In the week that the World Cup is kicking off, the RSPCA is releasing a multitude of photos to remind people how dangerous sports netting is to animals if it is not put away after use.

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Last year, 1,010 animals were rescued by the animal welfare charity after getting tangled in netting – with the numbers peaking in June and July.

Already this year, the RSPCA has rescued 442 animals from netting, which included 136 animals rescued in May alone – around four a day.

RSPCA wildlife expert Llewelyn Lowen said: “Football will be on a lot of people’s minds during the World Cup, which may mean more sports nets going up in gardens to make the most of football fever.

“However many people might not realise how dangerous netting is to animals so we want to raise awareness and hopefully stop animals from being injured – sometimes fatally – after getting caught up in netting.

“Last year our inspectors rescued more than 1,000 animals tangled in netting. We hope that these photos will shock people and make them realise the damage that netting can cause.

“Some animals survive, but very sadly many animals suffer fatal injuries, often as a result of struggling to get free.

“There have been instances, for example, of fox cubs strangling themselves to death because they have been trying to free themselves. It doesn’t take too long with them thrashing about trying to escape before they become seriously trapped and are then unable to free themselves.

“If they go unnoticed even for a short time, they can really suffer. The tight net can cut off the blood supply to their limbs, damage bones where they have tried to frantically escape, or worst of all, they could be strangled to death.

“We have had cases of animals so badly tangled that they are brought in to our wildlife centres with the netting still round their bodies and the only way to safely free them is to sedate them.

“There is one simple way to prevent this from happening – please remove sports nets after use and store them safely away. It only takes a few minutes and yet it could save an animal from suffering a horrible death.

“Where netting can’t be removed, such as pond or fruit netting, we recommend replacing them with solid metal mesh.”

When the RSPCA receives a call from a member of the public about an animal tangled in netting, it is classed as an emergency and the nearest RSPCA officer is tasked to go and rescue the animal.

If they can free the animal themselves they will carefully cut away the netting before checking the animal over. If there are no problems,then they are immediately released back into the wild.

However, there are instances where the animal is so severely tangled that they have to be sedated and taken to a wildlife centre for all of the netting to be cut away. Sometimes the animal is so badly injured that the difficult decision is made to put them to sleep to prevent further suffering.

If you see an animal tangled in netting, do not try to free them yourself – call the RSPCA immediately on 0300 1234 999.

Number of animals rescued by RSPCA from netting in 2017 – by month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

36

48

71

125

114

155

196

84

38

54

40

49

1,010