A gull with a disposable Covid-19 face mask tangled around its feet has been freed by the RSPCA.
The charity has issued a reminder for people to dispose of litter responsibly after the bird was rescued in Chelmsford, Essex on Saturday.
RSPCA inspector Adam Jones said: “Staff at a car showroom nearby had spotted the gull around a week earlier and were concerned that he seemed to be struggling to walk.
“Whenever they got near him to see what was wrong he flew off.
“But on Saturday they became increasingly concerned because he’d been sat in the same spot for hours and didn’t appear to be moving.
“I went out to catch him and when he tried to hop away he would stumble and fall.
“As soon as I caught him it was clear to see why as the poor thing had a disposable Covid face mask tangled around both legs.”
Staff at South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Grays cut the mask off, freeing the gull.
“It’s clear the mask was there for some time and the elastic straps had tightened around his legs as his joints were swollen and sore,” said Mr Jones.
They’ve now released him out into an aviary with other gulls and, when the group is ready, they’ll all be released togetherAdam Jones, RSPCA
“Thankfully, he’s been doing well and is being monitored closely.
“They’ve now released him out into an aviary with other gulls and, when the group is ready, they’ll all be released together.
“I’m concerned that this gull could be the first of many victims now that face masks are the norm.
“I’d appeal to all members of the public to ensure they dispose of their face masks and disposable gloves – and all other types of litter – properly and responsibly, so that animals don’t get hurt.”