Rescue workers at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center were surprised to see four concerned citizens walk in holding a grey fox who looked like she was wearing a red cone of shame. The little fox had managed to get her head stuck in a ring of plastic, and from the look of it, she had been in this predicament for far too long.

"The folks who brought her in had been camped in a vacant lot behind a local trailer park," says the rescue center. "One of them, a young man who said his name was Pocket Trash, was able to catch her as she ran. He told how he’d nearly had her, but she got away, and how he strategized his next move, putting himself where she was headed, and how once caught, she calmed down and allowed herself to be carried, limply, as they made their way to our clinic."

As the rescue team went to work, they discovered she had been like this for awhile. Here ears were flattened, and the skin was rubbed raw and hairless. There were deep cuts around her neck, and worst of all, her ears were filled with hundreds of maggots (we will spare you that photo...). The rescue team had to cut away the cone, carefully remove the pests and clean the wounds.

The rescue workers cut the cup away and cleaned the wounds. The rescue workers cut the cup away and cleaned the wounds. (Photo: Bird Ally X)

How this little fox managed to stay alive with such a cumbersome item around her neck is surprising, especially as it's clear she had been stuck for so long. It was lucky for her that Pocket Trash and fellow campers took the time and effort to catch her and bring her in for help.

"Her wounds, although serious, do not appear to be life-threatening. We treated her with a mild pain reliever and antibiotics. She’s very thin. Right now she’s resting more comfortably with an easy to digest diet of fish, eggs and canned cat food. She’s not out of the woods yet, but thanks to the quick and good action of Pocket Trash, she is out of the trailer park and out of the cup."

The little grey fox has a long recovery ahead of her but her prospects look bright. The little grey fox has a long recovery ahead of her but her prospects look bright. (Photo: Bird Ally X)

This little fox is an example of why plastic waste is such a danger to wildlife. Animals can get entangled and, if not rescued, endure a long and painful death, often of starvation. Meanwhile, a study recently came out that 90 percent of sea birds have eaten plastic, and that the percentage is growing. If you are looking for reasons to cut down on your plastic footprint, these animals provide inspiration and encouragement. Here are 16 ways you can get started.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.