Similar to fishing line and netting, wildlife can become entangled in the loops of elastic attached to face masks and are unable to free themselves. This can cause swelling, tissue damage, and even death. In the case of the gull mentioned above, the bird was unable to move its legs, which were swollen due to the tightly wrapped string.
Fortunately for the gull, it was rescued and is being cared for by South Essex Wildlife, which rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife. In a manner that is very similar to that used to prevent entanglement in the loops containing soda cans, this type of injury to wildlife is easily avoided.
To ensure that your masks do not injure wildlife, simply cut the strings before you toss your mask in the trash. You can also use a reusable mask to avoid throwing one out every time you need a mask.
Together we can help ensure a safe environment for the vulnerable animal populations that share this earth with us.