Fox cubs rescued after being found trapped in back garden football nets

Two adorable baby foxes have been rescued after being found trapped by shocked homeowners - in football nets.

The female cubs, thought to be between six and eight weeks old, were discovered days apart neighbouring cities dangerously tangled in the nylon material.

The RSPCA is now urging parents to safely store their football nets as the summer months approach.

RSPCA officer Aleesha Haddlesey was called out to save the first fox in Bradford on April 25 before finding the other one stuck in Leeds on May 1.

Both cubs were carefully cut away from the nets with scissors and brought to safety. One of the cubs will now spend several months in the care of a specialists at the Stapeley Grange RSPCA Centre in Nantwich.

The cub from Leeds was struggling to breath at first but soon recovered, and both foxes were later found to be uninjured following their ordeal.

Aleesha said: “In both cases, the homeowners spotted the cubs after they woke up and, understandably concerned, contacted us about them.

“The cubs were tightly entangled by the netting, particularly around their necks, and it was obvious they'd twisted and turned in an attempt to get free.

“Apart from the stress of being caught, we were all relieved that they hadn’t suffered any injuries.

“Football netting can be lethal, especially at this time of year when the curiosity of young, inexperienced animals can potentially get them into deadly situations.

“Getting trapped like this is stressful for an animal, particularly one that’s wild.

“And if they become seriously entangled, netting - whether it’s used for sports, fencing or the garden - can cause severe injuries or even death.”

After getting advice from specialists at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire, the cub from Bradford was released.

She immediately headed in the direction of a neighbouring garden where a den had been seen.

The cub from Leeds was taken to the wildlife centre for ongoing care and observation, although she is expected to make a full recovery.

The nets from both gardens have now been securely stored, and the charity is urging other people to follow suit.

May is a peak month for these types of entanglements when inexperienced and curious young animals venture out and about for the first time.

But the RSPCA says not everyone is aware of the dangers that everyday netting, like football goals, can pose to the wildlife who share our communities.

Aleesha added: “As wild animals frequently get trapped during the night, they may have been struggling for many hours by the time they are found in the morning - like this little cub - and they often need veterinary attention and sedation to cut them free.

“It's great that people are out enjoying their gardens and having fun.

"But we’d urge everyone using sports netting to remove and store them after use and to put any discarded or old netting safely in a bin.

“We’d also encourage people to look at other types of netting they may have in their garden and replace it with more wildlife-friendly alternatives.”

Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, said they planned to release the cub after several months of ongoing care.

He said: “The cub will be with us here for six months and she’ll be joined by other fox cubs, most of whom will have been orphaned.

“They will be found a safe place initially and then ‘soft’ released and supported for a few weeks, during which time they will be on their own.

“Then they'll venture off after a week or so to find a place and territory they can call their own.”

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