The RSPCA is warning people to cut up their disposable face masks before throwing them away.
RSPCA England and Wales wrote on Facebook, it is urging people to “snip the straps”.
“We have dealt with a heartbreaking 900 incidents of animals caught in litter since the start of lockdown - including animals tangled in face masks,” it wrote.
Chief executive Chris Sherwood said now that wearing face masks “is the norm” the message is “more important than ever”.
“For many years the public have been aware of the message to cut up plastic six-pack rings before throwing them away to stop animals getting tangled in them, and now we are keen to get out the message that the same should be done for face masks too - as very sadly, animals are susceptible to getting tangled up in them,” Mr Sherwood said.
“Our RSPCA officers have had to rescue animals from getting tangled in face masks and we expect that this may go up as time goes on, so the best thing to do is to simply cut the elastic ear straps in half before throwing it away.”
Among other animals rescued, the RSPCA said it had removed a fox from a large plastic reel, found a gull skewered by a kebab stick and helped another fox with a plastic bottle stuck on its head.
A NSW man told Yahoo News Australia he’s picked up 326 face masks from a single beach.
Wildlife ecologist Louis O’Neill worked quickly to collect the face coverings after spotting whales and seabirds close to the shore at Bouddi National Park, 45km north of Sydney in July.
Mr O’Neill told Yahoo News Australia the situation left him feeling “demoralised” as he feared wildlife would become entangled by masks still in the water.
A French environmental group also spoke about its concerns surrounding the disposal of personal protective equipment or PPE in July.
Founder Laurent Lombard said he’s never seen so many masks and gloves littering the ocean before and has shared videos and images of the large amount the group had cleaned up.
"There are two reasons for us seeing these masks in the sea. It's of course the usage, since there weren't any before, and now we're using them,” Mr Lombard said.
“And then there's the incivility. If people weren't throwing masks on the street, we wouldn't find them in the sea, since 80 per cent of the trash that we see in the sea comes from the land.
“You see, when it rains the trash is taken away by rainwaters and they end up in the sea through rivers and valleys.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.