Trousdale County residents are invited to submit photos of outdoors trash and litter to the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, some of which will be posted on the TWF website as part of a statewide litter-awareness campaign.
Some areas have been especially plagued by litter bugs, including parks and recreational boating areas.
By posting photos of the unsightly sites, the TWF hopes to draw attention to the problem and hopefully encourage outdoors-people to stash their trash. Information about how to post photos is available on the Tennessee Wildlife Federation website.
Trash and litter not only spoil the natural beauty of an area, it can be harmful to wildlife and dangerous to humans.
Swimmers and water skiers can become tangled and injured by discarded fishing line, and broken glass and sharp metal presents hazards on the bottom of lakes, along shorelines, on walking trails and around camping areas.
Coils of line sometimes become snarled in boat props and can cause damage.
Special containers are placed at some boat ramps specifically for the disposal of used fishing line. An even simpler way to dispose of old line is to wad it up and drop it in a nearby trash cans, along with other litter.
A sight at area parks is unfortunately typical: trash cans are provided all around the park, yet litter is scattered around almost every receptible. Instead of lifting the can lid and tossing the trash inside, litter bugs toss it on the ground beside the trash can.
The threat of litter to wildlife is well documented. Foraging animals, attracted to plastic bags and containers that retain the smell of stored food, frequently die from ingesting the plastic.
One study found that approximately 100,000 marine animals die annually from ingesting plastic, along with over a million birds.
Shore birds are especially susceptible to getting tangled in discarded fishing line. A few years ago I came across a heron snarled in a tangle of line on the banks of Stones River. I encountered another heron similarly snagged in a cypress grove on Reelfoot Lake.
My fishing partner and I managed to free the Stones River heron, but were unable to reach the one on Reelfoot, forced to leave it to its grim fate.
A wildlife website posted a photo of a deer that had a bottomless plastic bucket stuck over its head. The deer apparently had been licking whatever was stored in the discarded bucket and got it stuck around its neck.
Around recreational areas and campsites, discarded plastic bottles and metal containers collect water and provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which are not only irritating pests, but also sometimes carry diseases.
Among all types of litter, plastic is especially a concern because it does not degrade for decades. Plastics strewn around today will still be eyesores for our grandchildren.
The Tennessee Wildlife Federation hopes to shame litter bugs into cleaning up their act.