In the spring-like weather, many people go outside into nature. The forests are one of the most popular excursion destinations. Many ignore the fact that attention should also be paid to the environment here. This threatens the wild animals that live there.
Sometimes it’s a mask cord that is wrapped around a bird’s beak, sometimes it’s a glove in which a young fish is stuck. Protection for people from the corona virus could be fatal for wild animals such as fish or birds, warns the German Wildlife Foundation (DWS).
“The full extent of the improper disposal of protective materials cannot yet be foreseen,” said DWS board member Klaus Hackländer. “But it is already clear that Covid-19 garbage will make wild animals victims of the pandemic.”
He refers to a study by the team around Auke-Florian Hiemstra from the Dutch Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Liselotte Rambonnet from the University of Leiden. They tell of a small fish that stuck mouth first in the “thumb” of a latex glove. He had become the trigger for the project. The researchers asked people to send them pictures of animals that had become tangled in such gloves, masks or other protective equipment. The team received photos and reports from numerous countries from Brazil to Malaysia and presented their work in the journal “Animal Biology”.
Dogs particularly at risk
Dog: When walking through the forest, dangers lurk for all animals from garbage lying around. (Source: Barbara Cerovsek / Getty Images)
According to the report, pets, especially dogs, swallow protective masks, among other things. Some birds used them to build nests. Animals are weakened because they get tangled, Rambonnet said. The plastic also fills their stomachs.
Chicks of songbirds could strangle themselves with the rubber bands of protective masks from the nesting material, said Hackländer, who researches at the University of Vienna. He advises: “Never throw away rubbish such as masks and plastic gloves loosely, instead put them in tear-resistant, tight garbage bags, close tightly and dispose of them in the residual waste.”