ANOTHER Aussie animal gets trapped in beer can as bins overflow prompting calls for change

Snakes and lizards have been falling victim to drink cans for years. Is it time to redesign them?

A goanna has been photographed on a remote Aussie island with an empty Carlton and United beer can stuck on its head. The discovery has prompted a local Indigenous man to call on the manufacturer to consider redesigning its products when they’re sold to remote communities.

Instead of the ring pull opening up a tiny hole, he’d like to see them widen the opening so curious wildlife doesn’t get stuck when it wiggles inside in search of a drink. As yet, Carlton and United’s parent company, the Japanese conglomerate Asahi has not responded to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

"The bins keep overflowing and there's literally nowhere to put your rubbish. I don't know how to go about it, but the companies who produce drinking cans should make it so the entire top comes off when you open it," Craig Winston said.

Left - a goanna with its head in a beer can. Right - an overflowing bin at Paru Barge Landing
A goanna became trapped in a beer can at Paru Barge Landing. Source: Craig Winston

If Asahi agreed to update its design. it wouldn’t be the first time a drink manufacturer had changed packaging to stop Aussie wildlife from being killed.

Back in the 1980’s beer manufacturers removed the tiny bumps on their bottles in Western Australia because they were attracting male jewel beetles who mistook them for large females. More recently, Woolworths changed the colouring of its milk bottle lids because they were proving irresistible to bowerbirds.

It's well-known that snakes and lizards become trapped inside their drink cans and packaging — Yahoo has repeatedly reported on the issue:

Craig Winston (right) rescued a goanna with its head inside a beer can on Melville Island (shown on a map left). Source: Supplied/Google Maps/US Navy/NOAA/SIO
Craig Winston (right) rescued a goanna with its head inside a beer can on Melville Island (left). Source: Supplied/Google Maps/US Navy/NOAA/SIO

The goanna was discovered last Monday at Paru Barge Landing, Melville Island, by Craig Winston. Two cars had raced by just moments before he found the lizard, and he feels thankful it wasn't hit.

“It was rather lucky that I found it. The goanna crawled out from the side of the road to the middle — it was almost like it knew I was coming,” he said.

“I’d heard about this happening to goannas before, but seeing it myself got me a bit angry. I didn’t have any tools on me, so I thought I’d have to cut it free, but instead I managed to manoeuvre it.

“I was worried I was going to damage its scales because it kept trying to move forward and push through, so I put it on my chest so he had something to grip onto. It eventually got free and I worried he was going to bite me but it was cooperating strangely. I put him on the ground and he kept looking at me, as if to say thanks.”

The landing after council cleaned it up.
The rubbish has been cleaned up at the Paru Barge Landing by council. Source: Supplied

Paru Barge Landing is a major entry point for goods onto Melville Island and unfortunately for the wildlife that live around there it had become inundated with rubbish.

Discarded bottles and plastic had been overflowing from two 44 gallon drums for weeks before the goanna was trapped inside a can there. Images dating back to March 16 show cans, food packets and empty water bottles strewn across the landscape.

Yahoo understands the problem arose over confusion as to who was responsible for cleaning up the area and so the problem festered. Litter remains a major problem across some parts of the Tiwi Islands, with one local describing the issue as "terrible". Another said its the worst she's seen it.

On Monday, Tiwi Islands Regional Council (TIRC) confirmed the litter had now been cleaned up and it would continue to maintain the site until these issues had been resolved. Sometimes agreements are made verbally on the Tiwi Islands, and when one person leaves an organisation, contract responsibilities can be forgotten.

Hoping to solve the wider rubbish problem across the island, TIRC completed a review last year and it plans to begin a container deposit scheme to encourage recycling. As with similar schemes on the mainland, individuals and businesses will be given 10 cents for every can they return.

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.