Litter duck Abertillery pic1Avoiding unnecessary single-use plastics this festive season could help ensure a kinder Christmas for animals, says RSPCA Cymru.

The call comes after new statistics show the RSPCA has received 26 calls from Wales about plastic-related incidents, up to 26 November this year. It follows 27 calls coming to RSPCA Cymru during 2017.

Call figures, however, are likely to be higher – as these only denote those calls where plastic was specifically referenced.

This year, issues have included a hybrid duck found with a plastic ring stuck around his head and beak.

Wildlife and other animals can often become entangled or trapped by discarded plastics. The RSPCA says a “throw-away culture of single-use plastics” causes avoidable hazards for the animal kingdom.

In total, more than 600 incidents have been reported to the RSPCA so far this year across England and Wales, up to 26 November, linked to plastic-related trauma for animals.

RSPCA Cymru superintendent Martyn Hubbard said: “Since the start of 2017, we’ve had more than 50 incidents reported to us in Wales about animals negatively impacted by plastics.

“We see all too many animals coming into our centres sick and suffering due to the litter we throw away. Sadly, a throw-away culture of single-use plastics is creating numerous hazards for wildlife and other animals.”

RSPCA Cymru says welfare issues around single-use plastics are particularly frustrating for their officers as they are “totally avoidable”.

The call comes at a busy time of year for the charity. Last year, during the festive season (1-31 Dec), the charity received a total of 2,822 calls in Wales to its 24-hour cruelty hotline with concerns about animals in distress.

Superintendent Hubbard added: “Many welfare issues caused by discarded plastics are totally avoidable; so this can be hugely frustrating for our officers to deal with.

“Fortunately, there’s plenty the public can do to help. Avoiding the use of unnecessary single-use plastics this festive season could help make it a kinder Christmas for our friends in the animal kingdom.

“And whether it’s reducing packaging, leaving food out for wildlife in the colder weather, volunteering or donating to an animal charity or shopping at a charity shop, there are lots of things you can do to be kinder to animals this Christmas.”

Positively, an RSPCA survey* – across England and Wales – found that 69% of shoppers say they will try to cut down on single use plastics like straws or carrier bags this Christmas, while 38% said they would choose gifts with less packaging.

The call to be kinder to animals this Christmas, comes amid the recent launch of the RSPCA’s ‘Stock the Sleigh’ appeal, urging animal lovers to make the festive season happy, healthy and safe for thousands of animals by helping to provide vital items for pets in the charity’s care.

Supporters in Wales can give the gifts of care, safety and comfort to desperate animals this Christmas by stocking the RSPCA’s virtual sleigh online.