RSPCA Euro plea after foxes get caught in garden football nets

An RSPCA image of a fox caught in netting.An RSPCA image of a fox caught in netting.
An RSPCA image of a fox caught in netting.
Animal rescuers at the RSPCA are urging football fans to take care during the Euros after scores of incidents of foxes getting caught up in goal nets.

The charity said it has already received more reports about dangerously entangled foxes and other wild animals than the same period last year.

In just three weeks in June this year, the RSCPA had already received at least 30 netting entanglement reports, 20 of which related to foxes or fox cubs and the remainder being other species such as hedgehogs, deer, rabbits and birds such as gulls and crows.

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The animal charity said it had already taken 1,139 calls about animals entangled in sports, garden and deterrence netting this year, compared to 1,127 calls for the same period in 2020.

Figures for the whole of 2020 show there were 34 incidents of animals getting caught in nets in Tyne and Wear, and 19 in County Durham.

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.

"The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals - often wildlife - who have become tangled in netting on sporting equipment or garden nets.

“Already this year, the number of call-outs to rescue animals caught up in nets are up on 2020 and in the past couple of months, we have had a spate of young foxes in particular becoming entangled.

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"We suspect that people’s enthusiasm for Euro 2020 may have inspired increased numbers of amateur football nets to be put up in gardens and sports fields around the country and young, curious foxes are unaware of the dangers.”

She added: “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 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 the likes of Jack Grealish and Gareth Bale are inspiring many of us to put on our shooting boots this summer - and enjoy 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.”

To report concerns about an animal, call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999 or visit the website

The RSPCA urges people not to try to free the animal from the netting yourself, as animals can have serious injuries if they become tightly entangled, so it’s best that they are examined to check if they need veterinary treatment before being released.

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