THE RSPCA says it has received more than 21,600 reports of animals injured or caught in litter over the past five years.

New statistics published yesteday revealed that, in Cumbria alone, 257 calls about animals affected by litter were made during this period.

Of these recorded communications, 6,466 calls were made in relation to general litter - like tin cans, plastic bottles and elastic bands.

There have also been 15,183 reports relating to animals injured or caught in angling litter, and a further 12,904 reports of animals and birds trapped in netting - which includes netting discarded as rubbish and also sports netting or netting put on bushes or trees to deter birds.

As a result, the charity is urging residents to ensure they are disposing of their litter responsibly as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased.

The head of the RSPCA’s wildlife team, Adam Grogan, said: “Our staff are dealing with thousands of incidents every year where animals and birds have been impacted by litter - and they’re the ones that we know of. I’m sure for every animal we’re able to help there are many that go unseen, unreported and may even lose their lives.