A HEREFORD man has spoken of his fears that discarded masks littering Hereford's streets are not just a danger to people but also to wildlife.

Terry Freebrey, who lives in Hereford's Newton Farm, said he and other Newton Farmer community volunteers had been shocked by the number of cast-aside masks they had found while litter picking in Hereford.

"We have had a lot of face masks being dumped, and we are getting a bit upset about it," Mr Freebrey said.

"It not only makes the area look dirty, but it is dangerous for animals, which can get stuck through the ear loops and are being killed through peoples' stupidity."

Mr Freebrey, who also runs a volunteer disability assistance network, said the problem of discarded used masks had become more evident in the Newton Farm area in the last two months, with litter pickers picking up more every time.

"It's really annoying," he said.

"I am disabled and I go out there on a regular basis with six or eight others to cover the area. People like us are going around trying to clean the place up, and there are litter bins around, but I have picked up more than 50 just on the Great Western Way in one day."

The RSPCA has called on people to snip the loops on their masks before disposing of them after a surge in callouts to mask-related animal rescues last year.

The charity revealed in September last year that they had helped more than 900 animals caught in litter since the start of lockdown, with dumped face masks becoming a new hazard to wildlife since the pandemic started.

"We've received reports of animals tangled in the ear straps of single-use masks since it became law for the public to wear them in shops," the charity said.

"One such incident included a gull who was found to have a face mask tightly round his legs in Chelmsford, Essex.

"Despite the face mask causing swelling to his legs, the bird has now fully recovered - but it's just one example as to how dangerous face masks can be to animals."