A DEBATE has broken out online after a local man posted a photo of a seagull which had died after getting caught in a plastic bag.

Andy Kierle said he posted the image on facebook to "share the fact that there’s a massive problem with plastic materials."

In his post, he added: "Stopped off for fuel today and saw another victim of too much plastic waste.

"It was already dead. How it happen is beyond me."

The picture was taken on A38 Bristol Road heading northbound out of Bridgwater.

Every two hours, the RSPCA answers a call about an animal that has been harmed by rubbish - with 5,081 calls about animals affected by litter in 2017.

The animal charity’s figures show seven out of 10 calls were about animals affected by angling litter (3,685) including old hooks, lures, netting and other fishing paraphernalia, and the rest were about general litter (1,396) such as plastic products and tin cans.  

According to the RSPCA data, the bird species most affected by litter last year were swans (1,187), domestic geese (886) and gulls (440). 

Amongst mammals, domestic cats were most affected (146) followed by foxes (106), deer (74) and hedgehogs (53).

Llewelyn Lowen, RSPCA wildlife scientific information officer, said: “It’s shocking how many litter-related incidents we see, particularly as these kinds of animal injuries and deaths are entirely avoidable.

“It is good that there’s a global spotlight on how we use and dispose of plastic and other litter so that people understand how their rubbish is affecting animals and the environment.

"Every month our officers, wildlife centres and hospitals deal with hundreds of cases where pets or wildlife have become caught up in - and even died - from carelessly discarded items.

"An animal’s life could be saved if members of the public picked up and safely binned any litter they saw.”

Most cases of litter affecting animals are preventable if rubbish is disposed of properly and responsibly.

Animals looking for food can get trapped in tin cans and the sharp edges can cause injury.

Elastic bands also pose a risk to small animals and birds as they can wrap around their bodies or beaks and cause choking and other injuries.

Plastic bags or wrapping can suffocate animals or, if they eat them, can cause them to choke or can block their digestive system.

For more advice on how you can help, visit the RSPCA’s ‘How littering affects wildlife’ webpage.

If you see an animal in distress, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.