Western Mass. Doctor Warns Of Danger Of Discarded Face Masks To Wildlife

Apr 1, 2021

A western Massachusetts doctor has launched a campaign urging people to remove the straps on their COVID-19 masks before throwing them away. He says he's trying to protect wildlife.

Dr. Masood Mohammed spends his days and nights trying to save the lives of humans as an emergency medicine resident at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Through an effort he calls Mask Off, Straps Off, he's also trying to help save animals. He said he decided to act after a friend showed him a picture of a bird with the strap of a blue disposable mask entangled around its leg.

Mohammed said he's seen old masks in places they shouldn't be, like on streets and beaches.

"Once they're in those places, wildlife — especially birds — can get caught in them, or try picking them up and using them for their nests, and that can get caught on their feet, that can get caught on their necks, and strangle and even kill them," he said. 

Mohammed is encouraging people to cut or pull the straps off the masks when they're finished with them, and then put them in the trash.

It's a recommendation that environmental and animal rights groups are also making.