RSPCA fears more animals risk entanglement in Euros-inspired footie nets in Bedford gardens

The charity has already received more calls than this time last year

The RSPCA is warning of the dangers of netting to wildlife and is bracing itself to deal with hundreds of entanglement incidents this summer as fans get inspired by Euro 2020.

As footie-mad sports fans put up football nets in the back gardens and sports fields, the RSPCA has already received more reports about dangerously entangled foxes and other wild animals than this time last year.

With the RSPCA taking 1,139 calls about animals entangled in sports, garden and deterrence netting, numbers have already overtaken last year’s 1,127 calls for the same period.

A fox entangled in football netting

In just three weeks in June this year, the animal charity had already received at least 30 netting entanglement reports, 20 of which related to foxes or fox cubs and the remainder being other species such as hedgehogs, deer, rabbits and birds such as gulls and crows.

In Bedfordshire last year, there were reports of 18 animals being caught up in netting - including a deer which was rescued from a football net in a garden in Brook Lane, Bedford.

In February last year, RSPCA officers found the deer had netting wrapped around its head, antlers and neck and around the body.

The animal was on the floor "making a lot of noise" - it was released back into the wild once it was rescued by one of the officers.

A fox entangled in football netting

RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “Football and other types of netting may be fun for humans but can be very dangerous for wild animals if they are left out overnight.

"We suspect that people’s enthusiasm for Euro 2020 may have inspired increased numbers of amateur football nets to be put up in gardens and sports fields around the country and young, curious foxes are unaware of the dangers."

"Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal, particularly one that’s wild. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting - whether it’s used for sports, fencing or the garden - 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 in the morning and often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free."