From the Newsroom

A disposable face mask discarded on the grass near the pond in See Park where wildlife is known to frequent. Grafton. Image: Emma Pritchard

Unmasked fury at discarded face masks

Emma Pritchard|

 

When Freyja Turnbull took her six-month-old daughter Oliviah to See Park to watch the ducks last month, she was disgusted by what she saw.

“There were two disposable face masks floating on the pond close to where nine or 10 ducks were casually swimming around and innocently enjoying themselves,” she said.

“I was horrified.

“The masks still had the elastic attached too, which meant any of the ducks or any other birds could easily get tangled in them, resulting in an injury or an inability to forage and fend for themselves.

“I know people are being asked to wear face masks because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but its really sad to see so many of them are being carelessly thrown away.”

The young mum from Casino said she often takes her daughter to See Park when they visit Grafton.

Recently, she has noticed an alarming increase in the number of disposable face masks seemingly discarded at random.

“I’ve seen them in car parks, I’ve seen them in gutters and in the streets, not just in See Park,” she said.

“I’ve even seen them on the Summerland Way as I’ve driven between Casino and Grafton.

“I wish people would take better care when throwing face masks away because they are an environmental danger to wildlife.”

The current Covid-19 rules enforced by NSW Health regarding face masks in regional communities across the state require them to be worn at all indoor non-residential locations, on public transport and while waiting for public transport unless proof of exemption can be provided.

Ms Turnbull, who chooses to wear cloth masks made by her mum and aunties, said while she is happy to comply with the current rules to help keep communities safe, she is encouraging others to be more responsible.

“If you choose to wear a disposable face mask, please cut the elastic off before you put the mask in the bin,” she said.

“If more and more face masks are just thoughtlessly tossed away in parks, playgrounds and in other public areas, the environmental impact is just going to get worse, and more wildlife will be at risk.

“Its also really disgusting and appalling to see so many of them lying around the place because we live in such a beautiful, clean part of NSW and its our job as a community to keep it that way.”

Ms Turnbull said she scooped up the two face masks from the water, removed the elastic and put them in the bin.

For the latest information regarding Covid-19 rules and requirements, please visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules

If you see or locate injured wildlife, contact Clarence Valley WIRES on 66 434 055.

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