The RSPCA is issuing advice to homeowners and gardeners about the dangers of netting to wildlife.
The warning comes after a young stag had to be rescued from a twisted tangle of plastic net fencing in Peters Green in Luton.
The animal welfare charity was contacted today (Monday morning) by a man who spotted the frightened deer thrashing around with his antlers caught in the black plastic netting.
Inspector Jaime Godfrey rushed to the scene to free the stag: “He had the black plastic twisted around his antlers and was restrained by the 5ft-high netting fence,” he explains.
“The plastic was twisted fast around his antlers which was also caught in hedgerow.
“It was a very dangerous situation so the man who got in touch with us did the right thing calling the RSPCA.
“The deer was young and strong so was kicking and frantically thrashing around to try to free himself. He could have easily hurt someone in his panic.
“I managed to restrain him and cover his face to calm him down. But it still took me over half an hour to cut the netting away with a knife and scissors.
“He was clearly exhausted as, once I released him, he sat panting and puffing for around a minute before slowly standing and then darting off.
“He wasn’t the only one that was exhausted, I was too!”
The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals - often wildlife - who have become tangled in netting, football nets or fishing litter. In 2016, the charity received 1,907 calls to these types of rescues and 22 in Bedfordshire alone.
“This is such a stressful situation for an animal, particularly a wild animal, to find themselves in and one which could be easily avoided,” inspector Godfrey added.
“Netted fencing and netting used for gardening or in sport can be really dangerous for animals and also poses a risk for those of us who are trying to rescue any entangled animal.
“We would urge those using netting for sports to remove and store all nets after their game and put any discarded or old netting safely in a bin. Other forms of garden netting, like pond or fruit netting, can be a real hazard to wild animals like hedgehogs and we would recommend replacing them with solid metal mesh.”
If you spot an animal which is trapped, in distress, or in need of help, contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).