In Canada, when we think about throwing away our trash one thing that doesn’t always come to mind is that the dump can interrupt wildlife ecosystems just like cities and pollution do.
Due to this, many different types of animals have no choice but to live near dump sites. We must be mindful of how trash enters the landfill to protect wildlife from injuries that said waste can cause. In the fall of 2023, an unfortunate ring-billed gull flew into wet spray foam that was on some garbage in the local dump. Luckily, the workers at the dump noticed right away and jumped into action, quickly catching the gull in a box and calling our wildlife hotline. Wet spray foam can often entrap an animal or cause it to injure itself while trying to get free especially once it dries. Spray foam also has toxic fumes which could damage animals' lungs.
Once on site, this ring-billed gull was examined thoroughly to assess its injuries. It was determined that aside from the spray foam there were no other serious injuries. Mineral oil and dish soap were then used to get the spray foam off successfully without causing any further injury. The gull then spent a few days in care being monitored and was able to be successfully released at a nearby park with a pond.
Cases like these are good reminders to be mindful of how we dispose of our trash. If you are using spray foam and need to dispose of the excess, please make sure to spray out the excess and let it dry before sending it off to the dump. Cutting six-pack rings and the loops on masks will prevent wildlife from getting entangled in them, and washing out your jars and containers with soap and water before recycling will keep wildlife from getting stuck.
All of these simple steps can make a world of difference to the wildlife we share our spaces with.