RSPCA Cymru is reminding people about the dangers unattended football netting can pose to wildlife after a badger became badly entangled in Monmouth.
The badger was nearly impossible to see as he had been covered in mud through his attempts to escape – but luckily was spotted by a member of the public on the morning of New Year’s Eve (December 31).
His whole body had become entangled in the netting near Monmouth Leisure Centre on Old Dixton Road.
RSPCA deputy chief inspector Emma Smith said: “This poor badger was completely camouflaged as he was caked in mud and was very lucky to be spotted. It is heartbreaking to think how long he may have been there struggling to get free – but we’re so relieved he was spotted.
“The member of the public was very kind to wait for me at the location and also walked back with me to my van and helped me get my equipment to the badger.
“It must have then taken me around 40 minutes to get him free by cutting the net and untwisting the rope. I would say he was the worst animal tangled in netting I had ever seen – it is a real reminder as to the dangers of netting like this.”
Emma was quickly able to assess the badger’s condition and luckily he hadn’t sustained any injuries.
“He was very happy to be released and very quickly went back underneath some fencing towards some woodland,” she added.
“I’d like to thank the member of the public for firstly spotting this poor badger and for being so helpful with the rescue. It was also pouring down with rain – so I wanted to say a special thanks to them.
“They were also able to pass on advice to staff at the leisure centre to inform the caretaker to ensure that any nets that pose a danger to wildlife are removed.”
The RSPCA’s most recent figures show that in 2022 the charity took a total 1,798 calls – including 105 from Wales – relating to all species of animals which had become entangled in netting. Across England and Wales, 315 of these calls related to wild mammals and included 167 foxes and 62 hedgehogs.
RSPCA Cymru is now hoping to spread the message about the dangers that everyday netting – from roof netting to football goals – pose to the wildlife who share our communities.
Putting netting away after use to prevent wild animals getting entangled is just one of the many things volunteers can do to help our native wildlife.
RSPCA scientific and policy officer Rebecca Machin said “It’s really important that people understand how lethal unattended football netting can be and how often these incidents happen – particularly at this time of year, when the curiosity of young, inexperienced animals gets them into potentially deadly situations.
“We’re urging the public to help us spread the message – remember to put your sports netting away after use and never leave it unmonitored, particularly overnight.”
The RSPCA also receives countless reports about wild birds trapped in or behind netting from roofs and bridges – with a large number of these involving bird-deterrent netting.
Rebecca added: “Problems arise when netting is put up incorrectly or becomes damaged, leaving gaps where birds can enter and become trapped, leaving them susceptible to a long and painful death from injury or starvation.
“Unfortunately bird-deterrent netting is often fixed in high or hard-to-reach areas, making the rescue of trapped animals difficult and dangerous. We would urge businesses and those who use netting as a deterrent to ensure the netting is kept well maintained with no gaps that can lead to birds entering.
“Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting can cause severe injuries or even death.
“As wild animals frequently get trapped during the night, they may have been struggling for many hours by the time they are found and often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free.”
For advice on what to do if you see a wild animal in distress, please visit the RSPCA’s website.
This year the RSPCA is asking supporters to Join the Winter Rescue by donating to help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them.