Litter hurts wildlife

Whoever tossed out that empty cocoa box probably thought nothing about it. Just as the person who threw a six-pack wrap never guessed it would deform a turtle for life (and they can live up to 70 years!). It's spring and my thoughts turn to...litter? We're coming up on  No MOre Trash Bash month, Missourians' chance to focus on keeping Missouri clean and fresh outdoors.

The photo was sent to us by a woman who was taking a stroll with her husband and saw the skunk with his head stuck in the box. They tried using a shovel to pull it off, but to no avail. Finally her husband squatted down, twisted and pulled the box off. Fortunately, the skunk just looked them over and "leisurely turned and went into the cornfield."

Statistics on how long litter lasts don't seem to deter people. Maybe a few might stop and think if they knew the damage litter can do to wildlife. "Peanut" is the red-eared slider turtle that was found with the 6-pack wrap around its body. These are two stories of wildlife that survived. Kind of sickening when you think about the many others who weren't lucky enough to be seen and saved.

The woman who saw the skunk has decided to make litter pickup part of her birding walks. How much better if the thoughtless people who just toss things out thought twice about it. I still have a No More Trash sign that I never put up on our county road. Time to get it out there to remind would-be drive-by litterers that they could get up to a $1000 fine. Maybe if they don't care about wildlife or the pleasure other people get out of a litter-free outdoors, they'd respond to potential pain in the wallet.

You don't have to do a massive clean-up to take part in the No MOre Trash Bash. Even doing a little bit where you live and spreading the word among friends and family will help. (But I'm not recommending you squat down with skunks-that may be pressing your luck.)