Distressing images show cows grazing on rubbish strewn across meadows at a nature reserve after it was visited by careless revellers on so-called “Super Saturday”.
The animals can be seen rifling through bins overflowing with plastic bottles, empty takeaway boxes and sweet wrappers and gorging on the remnants of food on Sunday morning, at Sheep’s Green Nature Reserve in Cambridge.
In one image a cow has a plastic food container wrapped around its nose.
Locals ventured to the area over the weekend after social distancing rules were relaxed in England following months of closure due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopened for the first time in four months after restrictions were eased at 6am on Saturday morning.
Sheeps Green is grazed on by cattle and at times horses from April to October.
One passerby said they were “horrified” by the scene.
"I get infuriated by it,” they said. “I was quite horrified. There was stuff strewn all over the grass.
"People just fill the bins to capacity and then chuck stuff around them. I came across quite a few broken bottles, and even some nitrous oxide canisters.
"You can hear the cows going through the glass in the bins.
"But I spoke to one woman who also comes here quite a lot. She thinks it could have been much worse.
"She said that if it had been good weather it could have been really, really bad."
The images reflect the dangers to animals at beauty spots of litter left by visitors.
Veterinarians say most cattle owners let their animals graze freely, resulting in them eating waste, including plastics and metals.
If not treated, toxins released by the hazardous materials in their stomach can kill them.
The images come just a month after a two-year-old cow was found suffocated on Grantchester Meadows just a few miles away after eating a plastic bag.
The cow’s owner said it was obvious the animal had struggled in its last moments and blamed picnickers who left rubbish strewn across the meadows during the hot weather, the Cambridge Independent reported.
A postmortem examination showed the animal had died after ingesting a plastic bag that got caught in its lungs and airways.
Grantchester parish councillor Maggie Challis said the amount of rubbish left by visitors was “horrendous” and that the animal was the victim of people’s “merrymaking”.
Keep Britain Tidy warned of a “littering epidemic” last month as the lockdown restrictions ease and called on picnickers to take their litter home with them and put it in their own bin as local services are still struggling to maintain normal services like bin collection.