Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 11:07 UK

Ducks think rubber bands are food

Duck with rubber band caught in its beak [pic: Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service]
People are being urged to pick up any red rubber bands off the ground

Dozens of ducks have had to be rescued in West Sussex after they mistook red rubber bands dropped by postal workers for worms and tried to eat them.

Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service said it had been called out to help the birds after they got the bands twisted round their beaks.

Wildlife officer Billy Elliott said the bands were found "through their beaks and round the back of their heads".

The Royal Mail has apologised and said it has asked staff to be more careful.

Murky water

Mr Elliott said wildlife rescuers had been called to Brooklands Lake, in Worthing, six times this year to try to catch the ducks and remove the elastic bands.

He said the problem arose because once the bands, which are used for bundles of mail, were dropped on the ground they were then washed down the drains by rainwater, ending up in the lake.

"Underwater, especially if the water is a bit murky, they [the ducks] just see something bright and orange and obviously with competition for food the temptation is to make a grab for it," he explained.

Mr Elliott has urged members of the public to pick up any bands they see on the ground and hand them back to the postmen "to make them aware that people do care".




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