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A tiny island off the coast of Cornwall in England was found covered in rubber bands. The reason? Birds had picked them up from nearby fields, thinking they were worms.

Thousands of rubber bands have been found, strewn across the island. The remote island is a haven for great black-backed gulls, whose population has reduced 30% in the past few years, according to The National Trust’s press release on the findings. Scientists believe the birds have been bringing them to the island for many years and trying to feed them to young birds.

National Trust Ranger Rachel Holder said of the birds, “Ingested plastic and rubber is another factor in a long list of challenges which our gulls and other seabirds must contend with just to survive. They’re already struggling with changes to fish populations and disturbance to nesting sites – and eating elastic bands and fishing waste does nothing to ease their plight.”

Volunteers spent hours clearing the waste and making it safer for the animals. The National Trust highlighted the need to reduce single-use plastics, “Single-use materials are having an alarming impact on our country’s most remote places. It’s up to all of us to take responsibility for how we use and dispose of these items – whether we’re producers or consumers.” Volunteers also cleaned up fishing net and twine alongside the rubber bands.

Read more One Green Planet News about bird protection, including a recent Audubon report on Climate change and birds. And learn more about single-use plastics, and steps the UK government is taking to remove them.

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