Litter on Port Meadow left two animals needing vet treatment over the weekend of the 8th to 9th of May, with injuries that could have been life-threatening. A horse cut open its hoof on broken glass and a cow suffered an intestinal blockage thought to be caused by eating litter. 

This is not the first time that animals in Oxford have suffered injuries from litter. Last year, two cows, including a seven-month-old calf, died as the result of eating plastic bags, balloons, and other rubbish left behind on the meadow. Other grazing cows and horses sustained multiple injuries, including glass cuts. Oxford District Services (ODS), the Council-owned company responsible for litter management, has also had to rescue swans that became entangled in rubbish.

As the weather warms up and restrictions on outdoor gatherings ease, the City Council anticipates a bigger problem with littering in the city’s parks and green spaces. The Council offers a simple bit of advice: “Bag it, bin it or take it home” as part of its anti-littering campaign ‘Don’t Feed The Animals’.

The Council also urges people not to put their rubbish into overflowing bins, but to hold onto it until they find an emptier bin. Overflowing bins can attract scavenging animals, who then spread the litter around creating a new litter problem. Even one piece of litter can be fatal. The Oxford Mail reported that a dog recently died from eating a disposable facemask in an Oxfordshire park. Overflowing bins can be reported on a Council web page.

To combat the litter problem, the Council has increased bin capacity collection frequency, with staff out on Port Meadow as early as 6am. Volunteer groups such as OxClean Spring Clean are also addressing the problem, and will meet on May 29, June 5 and June at 12 for volunteer litter picking. Police and Council staff can also sanction littering, and are able to issue fines of up to £150. 

Port Meadow Ranger Julian Cooper said: “It’s heartbreaking when we see animals suffering because of people’s carelessness. ODS has regular litter collections, but it only takes a moment for an animal to eat litter or step on glass or metal left behind. Ultimately it’s up to all of us to clean up after ourselves so we don’t see any more harm.”

“In the warm weather last summer we were collecting three tons of rubbish a day at Port Meadow – our teams can’t keep up with that rate of littering. Everyone knows they shouldn’t drop litter. However tempting it is to rush on to the next thing, just think about the harm you might cause by leaving rubbish behind. Bag it, bin it or take it home.”

Image credit: Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash. The image does not show a bin in Oxford

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