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Football unites to protect wildlife from the dangers of goal nets

We are teaming up with the RSPCA to raise awareness of the hidden dangers of goal nets to wildlife and domesticated animals.

The Dorset County Football Association with the support of the RSPCA are looking to raise awareness to the hidden dangers of wildlife and domesticated animals becoming trapped in football nets across all football settings.

Football is enjoyed by thousands of people across Dorset every week, whether it is played at home in the garden; on the local village green; on recreation grounds; school pitches or at your local football club.

But did you know that after the final whistle has been blown and the players and spectators have all gone home a new danger lays in wait for much of our wildlife. This danger lurks with football nets that have been left attached to goalposts which then poses a risk to wildlife or our domestic pets from becoming caught and entangled in the nets. In their attempt to set themselves free they become further trapped resulting in injury or strangulation.

The RSPCA regularly receive calls about wildlife that has become entangled in goal netting or garden netting; from foxes and their young cubs, hedgehogs, deer, badgers, rabbits and birds, the list goes on, football can play its part in protecting our wildlife. 

In certain environments wildlife can become trapped for days on end leading to starvation and eventual death. 

Wild animals frequently get trapped at night, and so can struggle for many hours trying to get free before they are found during daylight hours. During the school holiday period when the school playing fields are empty, nets that have been left attached can mean a slow torturous death for wild animals who may not be found for weeks.
Whilst the current 2023/24 football season will shortly come to an end, football will be in the hearts and mind of everyone that loves football when the Euro’s jump onto our screens in June.

The RSPCA is bracing itself to deal with hundreds of entanglement incidents this summer as fans get inspired by Euro 2024. Children will once again try to emulate their heroes by taking to the fields or their back gardens to hit the ball into the back of the net in search of that wonder goal. With the main breeding season of much of our wildlife taking place from April to July each year this creates a dangerous playground for the young inquisitive babies which includes fox cubs and hoglets.

Kath Purnell, Facilities & Investment Lead at Dorset County FA said, “It is really shocking when you see the images of animals in such distress due to being entangled in football netting. We thank the RSPCA for their support and are really focused on rallying the football community to do their part in trying to alleviate the suffering of these animals and ask everyone to do their bit and sign the pledge”.

Rebecca Machin. RSPCA Scientific & Policy Officer said, “The RSPCA is proud to support Dorset FA's campaign to raise awareness of how football netting can harm wildlife. Football may be fun for humans, but netting can be very dangerous for wild animals if left out overnight, during school holidays, or out of season. The RSPCA receives hundreds of calls every year to rescue animals who have become tangled in netting on sporting equipment, and unfortunately some die before we can help them. We're very grateful to everyone doing their bit to help protect our wildlife. Thank you!'.

Football cannot let up, take action now and help to alleviate the suffering.

What are we going to do to protect wildlife?

The Dorset County Football Association and the RSPCA are inviting Football Clubs, Educational Establishments, Parish and Town Councils, Local Authorities and the communities of Dorset and beyond to unite in supporting us in protecting our wildlife by signing the pledge to confirm that you will take steps to protect our wildlife by;

  • Removing your nets after each game and by storing your nets where they cannot be a danger to wildlife.
  • By rolling your nets up from the bottom and securing it high enough so that wildlife cannot become trapped.
  • Ensuring that old, disused netting is disposed of safely.

Act now! Sign our pledge.

Sign HERE or scan the QR Code below

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Every club, organisation or household that signs our pledge will be added to the Pledge Wall on our Website and social media platforms.

For further information on the campaign contact Kath Purnell, Dorset County Football Association (Facilities & Investment Lead) at

If you encounter a wild animal in distress then call the RSPCA for advice. 

To report concerns about an animal, call the RSPCA’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999 or visit the website or contact your local veterinarian. Please do not try to free the animal from the netting yourself, 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.

About the RSPCA

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the RSPCA) exist to inspire everyone to create a better world for every animal. Every day, the RSPCA changes lives, laws, industries and minds so all animals can live a better life.

2024 marks the 200th anniversary of the RSPCA and now more than ever the RSPCA is looking to inspire everyone to create a better world for every animal.
Read more about the RSPCA's #ForEveryKind campaign here. You can also find out more about the RSPCA on

Are you a Wildlife Friend?

Last year the RSPCA received 83,000 calls about wild animals in need. As an RSPCA Wildlife Friend, you could help us protect and encourage wildlife. From taking injured small mammals to a vet or wildlife centre, to creating habitats in your outside space, your kindness counts.