The RSPCA said the latest tragic incident involved two fox cubs that got entangled at the back of the net in a North London garden.
Describing it as a 'very upsetting sight', RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer Holly Walker said the animals had become entangled in a football net overnight.
She said: “One of the cubs had already died from strangulation, the other was thankfully still alive but suffering from a severely swollen leg where the netting had tightened around it.
“Their mother, the vixen, had been watching helplessly as one of her cubs gave up his fight for life.”
That, she said, was the second incident in just one week she had attended to help entangled baby foxes with her colleagues being called out to multiple netting incidents.
She said: “It's really important that people understand how lethal football netting can be and how often these incidents happen.
“Please, please remember to put your sports netting away after use and never leave it unmonitored, particularly overnight.”
Greater London records 339 incidents
In 2021, the RSPCA received a total of 2,055 reports of animals caught in netting, with Greater London receiving the most reports with 339.
RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “Football and other types of netting may be fun for humans but can be very dangerous for wild animals if they are left out overnight.
“The RSPCA receives many hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals - often wildlife - who have become tangled in netting on sporting equipment or garden nets.
“Our officers are very busy attending call-outs to rescue animals caught up in sports netting and in the past couple of months, we have had a spate of young foxes in particular becoming entangled. At that age, they’re very curious but unaware of the dangers.
“Getting tangled up in netting is very stressful for an animal, particularly one that’s wild. And if the animal gets seriously entangled, netting - whether it’s used for sports, fencing or the garden - can cause severe injuries or - as seen recently - even death.”
Of the 519 incidents reported to the RSPCA about wild mammals tangled in netting in 2021, 260 were related to foxes, 135 were hedgehogs and 60 to deer.
The RSPCA said in the space of just one week last month (May), one RSPCA Officer, Louis Horton, handled six separate incidents of fox cubs entangled in sports netting across London and the Surrey area.
People are not advised to free the animal from the netting on their own, as animals can have serious injuries if they become tightly entangled, so it’s best that they are examined to check if they need veterinary treatment before being released.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care, visit their website or call their donation line on 0300 123 8181.