Roadside litter injures, traps or kills 10 animals every day, the RSPCA has revealed.
The animal charity has warned that in the last three years they have received more than 10,000 reports of animals becoming distressed or even dying because of discarded rubbish.
It comes as separate research by National Highways reveals almost half of people are unaware that fruit peels and apple cores, which lure wildlife to their deaths, count as litter.
A survey of 2,000 people also revealed that a third mistakenly believe that littering organic waste is beneficial for wildlife.
While more than 90 percent said they had never littered on the roadside, more than 60 percent said they had seen someone else do it.
Roadside litter injures, traps or kills 10 animals every day, the RSPCA has revealed
The animal charity has warned that in the last three years they have received more than 10,000 reports of animals distressed or even killed by discarded rubbish.
National Highways warned that people are unaware of the fact that trash and discarded fruit can attract animals, with often deadly consequences.
They have launched a campaign, supported by the RSPCA and environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, asking people to “lend a paw and throw away their rubbish”.
As part of a long-term effort to remove litter from roadsides and motorway service areas, National Highways has conducted a trial using AI-enabled cameras alongside a local authority which is carrying out the application of the law.
They have also tested message signs to reduce litter on highways, used geofencing to send text messages to motorists entering rest areas where litter is a problem to encourage them to take it home, and will participate in the upcoming Great British Spring Clean for the ninth year. run.
In separate research by National Highways, more than 90 percent of people said they had never littered on the side of the road, more than 60 percent said they had seen someone else do it.
National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “Littering is a terrible social problem.” Not only is it unsightly, but it can have a deadly impact on wildlife, turning shoulders into deadly roadside restaurants.
‘We are working hard to address it on our roads, and our people pick up litter every day. To keep them safe we have to close lanes on motorways, which delays drivers and costs millions of pounds.
“But if people don’t throw away their rubbish, it won’t need to be picked up, so we urge road users to take it home.”
Geoff Edmond, RSPCA wildlife director, said: “We welcome the National Highways campaign to raise awareness of the dangers wildlife face from roadside litter.
‘Our rescuers face thousands of incidents each year in which animals have been impacted by litter.
‘Old drinks cans and bottles, plastic items and even disposable vapes are just some of the items that pose a danger to our wildlife, including hedgehogs, squirrels, deer and foxes.
‘Animals can ingest rubbish, become trapped in it, or be attracted to old food on the side of the road, putting them at risk of being hit by moving vehicles.
‘Unfortunately, for every animal we can help, there are probably many others that go unnoticed, go unreported and may even lose their lives.
‘But it’s very easy for the public to help. When people are on the roads, we urge them to hold on to their trash until there is an opportunity to dispose of it safely and responsibly, or recycle it where appropriate. As we all strive to create a better world for every animal, this could save an animal’s life.’
Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Our roads are a graveyard for small mammals and other wildlife that are attracted to the food and drink drivers illegally throw from their vehicles.
“We are pleased to see National Highways launching this long-awaited campaign aimed squarely at getting motorists to do the right thing, put their rubbish in the bin and protect these beautiful biodiverse areas where so many animals live.”
The 2018 Keep Britain Tidy investigation found that up to three million animals were dying each year on the roadside, trapped in litter such as bottles and cans.
They included birds, small mammals and larger animals such as badgers and deer. The increase in vehicles on the road network since the study was carried out means the number of animals killed by litter could now be higher.