Bristol RSPCA rescues fox caught in football net at Bristol school

A Patchway fox had quite the shock after it got trapped in a football net at a local school. An RSPCA animal rescue officer was called to Stoke Lodge Primary School after the young fox was found tangled in the netting.

The adorable creature needed to be carefully cut from the football net before being taken to a local vet for check-ups. The charity says incidents involving fox cubs entangled in netting are on the rise, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Rescue officer Alison Sparkes attended the school to free the stricken cub. The RSPCA wants to share the image of the poor fox to raise awareness of the dangers these incidents pose to wildlife.

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Alison said: “After carefully cutting away the netting, I was able to take the fox cub to Zetland Vets in Patchway for help and checks before releasing him back home to join the rest of the team. We hope that by sharing pictures of this fox unable to free himself, people will realise how dangerous netting is to wildlife.

“Every year, we rescue hundreds of animals tangled in netting. Some animals survive, but very sadly many animals suffer fatal injuries, often as a result of struggling to get free.

“If they go unnoticed even for a short time, they can really suffer. The tight net can cut off the blood supply to their limbs, damage bones where they’ve tried to frantically escape, or worst of all, they could be strangled to death.

“To help prevent this from happening, we’re encouraging people to please remove and safely store sports nets after they’ve been used, and to put any old or discarded nets in the bin. These simple actions could save an animal’s life.”

(Image: RSPCA)

Of 519 incidents reported to the RSPCA about wild mammals tangled in netting in 2021, 260 were related to foxes. RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “Football and other types of netting may be fun for humans but can be very dangerous for wild animals if they are left out overnight.

“Our officers are very busy attending call-outs to rescue animals caught up in sports netting and in the past couple of months, we have had a spate of young foxes in particular becoming entangled. At that age, they’re very curious but unaware of the dangers.

“Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal, particularly one that’s wild. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting – whether it’s used for sports, fencing or the garden – can cause severe injuries or – as seen recently – even death.

“As wild animals frequently get trapped during the night, they may have been struggling for many hours by the time they are found in the morning and often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free. It’s great that people are getting out and enjoying the great outdoors and nature while having a kick-around.

“But we would urge those using sports netting to remove and store all nets after their game and put any discarded or old netting safely in a bin. Any garden fence netting should be replaced with solid metal mesh and use wood panels as fencing instead of netting.”

There is more information on how to help trapped or injured wildlife on the RSPCA website. In November last year another fox was also found entangled in a school football net.

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