OnFocus – With a mask mandate still in effect for Wisconsin, more people are wearing disposable masks. Consequently, many masks are not being disposed of property, resulting in wildlife getting caught in the mask loops.
According to activist group Green Matters, every month that the planet faces the coronavirus, an estimated 200 billion disposable face masks and plastic gloves are being disposed of and entering the environment. Not only can these synthetic PPE items hurt animals by entangling them, but they can also hurt and even kill animals who accidentally ingest them — something that commonly happens to marine life, even to some of the ocean’s biggest creatures.
Local wildlife rehab Wild Instincts encourages everyone to do their part to protect wildlife.
Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Mark Naniot said that most of the animals that arrive at the rehab are injured as a result of human causes.
“A large number of animals we admit are due to human causes, whether that be hit by car, tangled in line or garbage, attacked by family pets, construction or development, etc. The list is quite long,” he said. “If we are having such a great impact on our environment, shouldn’t we do what we can to minimize it?”
If you wear a single-use face mask, make sure to dispose of it properly. Never litter it on the ground, and try not to throw it away in an outdoor trash or set it down outside, as the wind could pick it up and blow it away. When throwing away a face mask, you can snip the ear loops in half with a pair of scissors. That way, even if it does somehow wind up as litter (by blowing out of a trash can, landfill, or garbage truck), there’s less of a chance it could get tangled around an animal.
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