Thursday, March 3, 2016

Plastic Refuse Kills Birds and Other Wildlife

It Is Time To Clean Up Our Act

Bird With Plastic Loop Caught Around Head [Internet Photo]
Every time I pull the plastic ring off a juice bottle I think of our birds and other wildlife.  This post is written to make the reader aware of the dire problem we have created for them with a multitude of plastics polluting the environment.  

We use a humongous amount of plastic.  Virtually all of it ends up in landfills and scattered around the landscape.  Granted, some is recycled but much of that eventually ends up as pollution.  Have you been out on our rivers, lakes and oceans lately?  There is a lot of plastic floating around and piled up on our shores.  Our oceans are becoming a literal plastic dump.  There is no place anymore on our Earth where plastic refuse is not found.

Mallard Female with Plastic Can Holder Caught Around Head [Internet Photo]
We have a serious problem.  It is worse for pelagic birds because they eat bits of plastic and also feed them to their nestlings.  This is causing high mortalities due to impaction and starvation.  The birds are so full of plastic they cannot eat.  Many carcasses are found with the digestive tract heavily impacted with pieces of plastic.

This post will focus on what we can do to help.  We obviously are not actively throwing plastic into the ocean (well most of us).  Take a look around at our environment.  There are plastic bags hanging from trees everywhere we go.  We can remove them and dispose of them properly.  The proper way to dispose of them is to recycle them.  We must, however, take care that they do not blow away from our recycle bin as we set it out for pick up.  

Two items we use regularly create problems; any plastic ring and the plastic ring assembly used to package a six pack of beer, pop, etc.  These are traps waiting to catch unsuspecting birds and wildlife.  See the photo below showing a female duck with a 2-pack ring caught around its beak and head.  The birds are not able to remove the ring and eventually die of starvation.

Duck Caught by Plastic Ring [Internet Photo]
What can we do to help?  We can minimize our purchase of products which use plastic in such configurations.  But we cannot eliminate our use totally.  What we can do is simple.  We can just cut each ring open before disposal.  This is easy and simple and prevents an unsuspecting bird, mammal, turtle, etc. from getting caught.  When I remove the ring from a juice bottle, I just cut it through before I put it in the garbage/recycle.  Easy!  See below.

Plastic Ring From Juice Bottle - Cut Open

Cutting the Rings From a Six-Pack Holder [Internet Photo]
Cleaning up our oceans, lakes and rivers is something we are going to have to face.  Some of our good citizens are actively cleaning up camping sites along our rivers now.  We must adopt the habit of 'taking out more than we take in'.  What I mean is, we must carry a garbage bag along with us and collect and carry out for proper disposal garbage on every one of our outings.  It would be surprising how quickly we could make a difference.

The oceans are a different matter, a very serious matter.  It is going to take a huge effort to clean up what is there already.  As well, we must stop the continuous amount of pollution that is taking place.  It is my hope that we get after this problem now.  Our efforts would be much better for the Earth and for ourselves if we spent our time and resources on that and not on nations fighting one another.

Stork With Plastic Bag Caught Around its Body [Internet Photo]

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