Are wild mammals eating plastic?
Are you concerned about the impact of supermarket plastic waste could have on our UK wild mammals?
The Mammal Society, with support from Waitrose & Partners’ Golden Jubilee Trust scheme and the University of Sussex, are launching a new project to investigate.
As highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet, plastic in our seas threatens marine mammals. However, almost nothing is known about impacts on land mammals. This study will assess the exposure of wild mammals to waste plastics across the UK. By analysing the droppings of some of our most widespread species — mice, voles, shrews and hedgehogs — we will find out the extent to which plastics are eaten. We will also assess the health threats posed by different types of plastic, through both ingestion and entrapment. The results from this study will be used to make packaging recommendations to Waitrose and other supermarkets.
Why small mammals?
- They indicate the health of our ecosystems.
- Hedgehogs, and many small rodents, are in severe decline.
- They are vital prey for a wide variety of species including foxes, weasels, barn owls, and kestrels.
- As some of the most likely species to chew litter, they create tiny plastic fragments that can enter soils, waterways and the sea.
- Plastics in small mammals means plastics in their predators – ranging from owls to pet cats.
How you can help
Are you a university or wildlife group that would like to take part in humane mammal trapping to collect droppings, a member of the public with hedgehogs or other small mammals in your garden, a wildlife rescue centre, or just want to help the cause:
- Get in touch and send us small mammal droppings you spot
- Make and set up a mammal footprint tunnel in your garden and collect the droppings left to send to us along with the paper showing the footprints (click here for instructions to make your own tunnel)
- Send photos of wild mammal plastic entrapment or teeth marks in plastic waste to he email below
- If you are a vet or represent a UK wildlife rescue centre please complete our short questionnaire https://www.mammal.org.uk/2020/10/plasticinmammals-wildlife-centre-survey/
- DONATE to our appeal for equipment needed for the laboratory analyses. Just click the donate button above.