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Don’t be a tosser! Norfolk study says discarded bottles and cans are killing 3.2m shrews and voles

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:00 27 March 2018

A young bank vole foraging at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens. Picture: Trevor Taberham

A young bank vole foraging at Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens. Picture: Trevor Taberham

(c) copyright citizenside.com

A Norfolk nature lover has exposed how our discarded bottles and cans are acting as a graveyard for our shrews and voles.

A common shrew. Picture: Anne MarksA common shrew. Picture: Anne Marks

According to a Keep Britain Tidy report by Graham Moates, thoughtless “tossers” could be killing up to 3.2m shrews, voles and mice every year.

It says almost one in 12 bottles and one in 20 cans contain the remains of some of our smallest and most rare native mammals, including common shrews, pygmy shrews, bank voles and wood mice.

Keep Britain Tidy said the animals were “an essential part of our wildlife heritage” and formed a vital part of the food chain, eating insects and plants and acting as prey for other animals and rare birds like owls and kestrels.

Keep Britain Tidy ambassador, naturalist and TV Chris Packham said: “We have all seen the impact of littered plastic bottles on our marine environment in recent months. Now, thanks to this research, we know it is killing millions of the small mammals that are a vital source of food for our native birds of prey.

“It is time for everyone to take responsibility for their rubbish. If you care about our country and its wildlife don’t be a ‘tosser’.”

Keep Britain Tidy’s new campaign is aimed at those motorists who thoughtlessly throw rubbish from their vehicles with a blunt message ‘Don’t be a Tosser’.

Next month, new regulations come into force that will make it easier to councils to fine those who throw rubbish from their cars by allowing them to issue a penalty charge notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle, regardless of who actually threw the litter.

The charity’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “We are spending millions of pounds every year cleaning up after selfish drivers who seem to think it is acceptable to throw their rubbish out of their car, van or lorry, turning our roadsides into a giant heartless wasteland.

“Now, thanks to this study, we know that they are not only making our country look filthy, they are also killing our shrews and voles.

“In recent months we have seen the impact that litter is having on our oceans and, closer to home, we know that the RSPCA deals with a call about an animal killed or injured by litter every two hours.”

The study, ‘Small mammal mortality in discarded bottles and drinks cans – a Norfolk-based field study in a global context’, by Graham Moates, will be published in the second edition of Keep Britain Tidy’s Journal of Litter and Environmental Quality in April.

Mr Moates is a volunteer for the RSPB, Norwich Bat Group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Little Ouse Headwaters Project with particular interests in mammals, orthoptera, birds and citizen science generally.

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