Most people are aware of the damage caused when garbage ends up in the ocean, but human waste can be just as devastating for creatures on land.
In fact, the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) gets 10-12 patients a year with “entanglement injuries” – birds with wings or legs tangled up in yarn, string or even human hair – enough cases to be a real problem, says Wild ARC assistant manager Meghan Hatch.
“Often times that constriction can cause problems where either the toe amputates itself or it will have to be amputated,” she said. “Sometimes if it’s really severe there might be cases where we have to euthanize the animal.”
Usually the birds come across the materials when they are scavenging for nesting materials, says Hatch. They will also use dryer lint, which gets hard and compact when wet, making it difficult to provide the structural support needed for developing chicks.
“I have heard, and it’s not common, that people put these materials out for them,” said Hatch. “Birds are perfectly capable of going out and collecting the materials they need without human intervention.”
With migratory birds heading to Victoria and spring babies on their way, Hatch says it’s important as ever to keep garbage and waste out of reach of wildlife.
“As they come back here, they’re going to be starting to build their nests and have their babies. And those babies are quite vulnerable.”
Approximately 80 per cent of wildlife patients admitted to Wild ARC are hurt, injured or lost as a result of human interference.