We’ve all seen those depressing images of marine life killed by human-made trash. The deepest sea creatures on planet Earth now have plastic in their bellies. However, it isn’t just marine creatures and seabirds that are caught up in this mess.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has recently released some images of the devastating effect of human trash on land mammals. One of the photographs shows two dead stags on the Isle of Rum, a remote island off the west coast of Scotland, who became tangled together by washed-up fishing rope. Another image shows a stag with rope and a buoy stuck in its antlers.
“Red deer stags with rope and netting caught on their antlers is an all too familiar occurrence, particularly around Scotland’s West Coast," SNH wrote in a blog post. "Thankfully it doesn’t always end so tragically, as stags naturally cast their antlers in the spring. It’s not unusual to come across shed antlers entwined with old rope.
“But the worst cases do end badly. Often the rope starts around the antlers but as the deer struggles to free itself, the rope catches its legs too.”
The photographs were taken last year, but have recently been released by SNH as part of their campaign to clean up Scotland’s seas.
There’s already 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's marine waters. By 2050, that figure is set to grow so much that trash in the ocean will outweigh fish. The world has become increasingly aware of the effect of this pollution on fish, seabirds, whales, and other marine life. However, it’s less known that trash in the oceans can also devastate large land mammals such as deer.
“Marine litter is a huge international problem. But small actions can make a big difference, and everyone has a part to play,” said Lesley Watt, reserve manager on Rum for SNH, according to BBC News.
"Along with many organizations, SNH recently joined the campaign to bin plastic straws; and we're cutting down on disposable plastics by providing our staff with re-useable travel cups.
"If you use your own bag for life when shopping, or take litter home after a day at the beach, you could help save an animal's life."