Let's Make Bennachie Litter Free!

Jock o' Bennachie is very grateful to Keep Scotland Beautiful, Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish SPCA and the RSPB for their support in making these resources.

Information and Activities

Respect, Protect, Enjoy

Jock o' Bennachie is hopping mad with what SOME of us humans are doing to his precious hill and the wildlife he looks after on it! He hasn’t been this worried and angry since the days when Jock o' Noth stole his girlfriend! He is stomping about Bennachie shouting, "THIS MUST STOP!"

Bennachie is a very special place - it’s beautiful and peaceful, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic it has been a wonderful place for folks to enjoy. Never have we needed our outdoor spaces more.

Bennachie has given us so much - exercise, fun, brilliant views, loads of super memories, the chance to soak up all the good things about being outside in the fresh air.

But what have SOME of us given Bennachie is return?

Dirty, dangerous LITTER... and loads of it!

Plastic bottles, glass bottles, drinks cans, used loo roll (yeuch!), face masks, sweetie papers, crisp bags, cigarette butts, the list is endless... Let’s not forget to mention the small mountain of dog poo bags that’s threatening to outgrow Little Oxen Craig!

Litter in this special place looks awful and spoils our fun in the countryside. Jock hates, hates HATES standing in dog poo, it squishes through his big hairy toes! But things are much more serious than that - it’s killing and injuring the birds and animals who live on Bennachie!

Jock feels sure that humans don't mean to hurt wildlife with their litter, if they only understood the harm their litter is causing they would stop dropping it and be more responsible by binning it or taking it home to recycle properly.

Jock can’t fix this all by himself, we need to help him and his furry and feathered friends!

Jock o' Bennachie

Jock Says:
I know climbing Bennachie is hungry and thirsty work and you need a snack - just put all your litter in your backpack till you get to the bins, or take it home.

YouTube Video: The Animals Save the Planet - Leopards Hate Litter
Litter Collected on Bennachie
Litter Collected on Bennachie
Litter Collected Near Bennachie
Litter Collected Near Bennachie
Litter Collected Near Bennachie
Litter Collected Near Bennachie

Jocks Doric Litter Story - Make Jock and Bennachie a Promise

Fit A Soss Bailies Story

Transcript and Glossary (PDF).

Make Jock and Bennachie a promise!

I promise to respect you, protect you and I’m going to enjoy being with you. I will take all my litter to the bins or I will take it home.

Why not get permission to e-mail Jock a copy of your message - this could be an animation, a voice recording, or even a video recording.

With permission, he might well use it on social media.

E-mail your promise to

Jock o' Bennachie

Why Do People Drop Litter?

Loads of research has been done on littering behaviour, and here are just some of the reasons. Most of us will drop litter accidentally at some point, but there’s a big difference in the amount, type of litter and how often we drop it.

How does seeing litter make you feel?

What do you think about these reasons?

  • Bennachie is huge, my little bottle, sweet wrapper or crisp bag won’t affect anyone or anything
  • Bennachie isn’t my responsibility, someone else will pick up my litter, after all, folk are paid to clean up
  • Bennachie isn’t my neighbourhood so dropping litter here doesn’t matter, it’s not my problem
  • I can’t be bothered carrying my litter or trying to find a bin
  • I’m not carrying a smelly bag of dog poo on my walk
  • I’m not sure what ‘counts’ as litter - it’s okay to drop biodegradable stuff like loo roll, banana skins and orange peel
  • There’s litter already lying around, so it’s okay for me to drop litter here too

Sometimes folk just don't understand their responsibilities and how their litter affects the environment. Jock is hoping that once they understand what’s happening on Bennachie, humans will be more responsible with their litter.

If an area is litter free people are less likely to drop litter, so Jock is hoping that’s what will happen on Bennachie, if we share this message and information.

More Information

For more information please visit.

How Can Litter be Dangerous to Wildlife?

We all love to visit Bennachie, but it provides shelter, food, a place to play and a place to bring up young for its wild creatures. It is HOME and means absolutely everything to the wildlife who live there.

Bennachie’s wildlife includes several rare and protected species.

A great variety of birds live on Bennachie - just to name a few, meadow pipits, robins, wrens, blue tits, long tailed tits, bull finches great spotted woodpeckers, predators like sparrow hawks, owls, buzzards and summer visitors like cuckoos, swallows, blackcaps, chiffchaffs and ospreys.

Mammals including wood mice, voles, shrews red squirrels, pine martens, badgers, foxes, roe deer and wildcats all live on the hill.

Amphibians like frogs, toads and newts, innumerable insects like moths, butterflies, bumble and solitary bees, wasps and you might have noticed a few midgies too!

When you are on Bennachie, if you're very quiet you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of these. You will most likely see and hear some of the birds.

Mostly these creatures are shy and secretive, but every single day when it is quiet, the animals are busy foraging for food. And they are HUNGRY!

In the spring and summer they will have extra mouths to feed, and in the colder days of winter, food will be scarce.

The trouble is that wildlife has no way of understanding just how dangerous our litter could be for them!


Nature is the World’s Best Recycler!

Nothing is wasted in nature! In the natural world there is an army of recyclers whose job is to turn dead plants, animals and waste into nutrients for other plants and animals to reuse.

You may not realise it but all this recycling is going on around you as you walk on Bennachie.

Lichens, mushrooms, bacteria, earthworms, beetles, wood lice and loads of others exist as nature’s recyclers.

This is all part of the web of life. Everything in the natural world is connected - this is called an ecosystem.


Producers like grass and trees make their food using energy from the sun.


Consumers get their energy by eating these green plants-they are called herbivores-like rabbits and roe deer. Other consumers are animals like wildcats and are called carnivores because they eat meat. Another group of consumers is called the omnivores, as they eat both plants and meat. Pine martens and badgers are examples of omnivores.


Decomposers like bacteria and fungi eat and recycle dead organisms and waste, turning it into nutrients, and the cycle begins all over again.

Watch the video below to learn how this works. Can you identify the producers, consumers and decomposers in this video?

Roe Deer (Credit Byran Morrison)
Roe Deer (Credit Byran Morrison)
Rowan Tree Bark
Rowan Tree
Nature's Recyclers - Activity Guide (PDF)
Nature's Recyclers - Activity Guide For Teachers (PDF)
Mushroom on Tree

When Wildlife Meets Litter - Plastic

Plastic can be very convenient for us - we use single-use items then discard them, like drinks cups, lids, stirrers, bottles, plastic bags of all sorts like crisp bags, sweet wrappers, and lots more.

You will be able to think of lots of examples-is there any plastic in your lunchbox for example?

And it’s not just whole items, it’s small fragments too. For every large item we see, there will be loads of small fragments we don't notice-but birds especially can mistake small pieces of plastic for food.

One of the problems is that whilst we may use it for only a few minutes, it isn’t biodegradable. It’s thought that it can take hundreds of years for plastic to decompose. Nature’s recyclers just can’t deal with it.

Old Plastic Waste
Look at the date! (Select to Enlarge)
Old Plastic Waste In Trees
Plastics In The Trees Too

Remember how we talked about the hungry animals on Bennachie coming out looking for food when it’s quiet? Well here’s what can happen, and Jock says the next bit can be difficult to think about:

Animals tend to have much better senses of smell than us. They can smell leftover food in our litter and are attracted to it. And because creatures are shy and secretive, we tend not to know what our litter can do to them.

Plastic causes big problems for wildlife. Creatures simply don’t understand about litter, and how dangerous it can be for them.

The two main sets of problems wildlife have with plastic are entanglement (getting caught up in it) and consuming (eating) it.

Food containers like plastic bottles and jars can smell really interesting, but small animals can get their heads stuck inside. Some manage to get inside but then can’t get out again.

Plastic six-pack can holders can be really dangerous, as animals get their heads and wings stuck in them, causing horrible injuries.

Animals can mistake plastic for food-for example, plastic bags like crisp bags and food wrapping can make animals choke, or can cause blockages in their tummies and gut-that can kill!

Gannet entangled, Credit RSPB (
Gannet entangled, Credit RSPB (
Heron with plastic bag, Credit Ben Andrews (
Heron with plastic bag, Credit Ben Andrews (
Crips Packet
Crisp Packet Credit Trish Brewster
Crips Packet
Crisp Packet Credit Trish Brewster

When Wildlife Meets Other Types of Litter

Aluminium Cans - According to the BBC, a whopping 10 BILLION aluminium cans are produced in the UK every year, with 3 billion of them not recycled properly. Jock knows where too many of them are ending up causing problems for his furry friends on Bennachie!

These cans are tempting for animals looking for food and shade. They can get stuck inside or cut by the can’s sharp edges, ring pulls, or half-open lids.

Elastic Bands - These can get caught around birds beaks and around the necks of small animals.

Balloons and Chinese Lanterns - Please don’t release them into the sky, you don't know where they will land and the harm they could do when they fall to the ground and burst; creatures can mistake them for food and choke.

Glass bottles and Jars - Small animals can get trapped inside, but broken glass can seriously injure both pets and wildlife.

Face masks - Sadly, Jock is now seeing these disposable masks on Bennachie and they’re hurting wildlife, who become entangled in the straps.

Litter Collected on Bennachie
Litter Collected on Bennachie

When Wildlife Meets Litter - Dog Poo

Now for a really stinky topic, here goes!

Dog poo really makes Jock sick! He can confirm there isn’t a poo fairy on Bennachie!

No one likes to see or smell dog poo lying around, and we all know it’s like a magnet for our shoes - yeuch! Not only do dog poo and poo bags look bad and spoil our enjoyment of walking on Bennachie, but it’s also much worse!

There’s nothing nicer than a walk in the countryside with our furry friends. They tend to do a ‘doo doo’ within the first few hundred yards of the car park. We can pick up some nasty diseases from dog poo and NHS Borders know all about it: Infections from Dogs & Cats: important information

It is an offence for someone responsible for a dog not to remove or correctly dispose of dog poo if the animal has fouled in any public open space to which the public has access to (Dog Fouling Scotland Act, 2003).

So we all know that dog owners have to BAG IT AND BIN IT!

Some humans seem to ‘get’ the first part of that message, carefully cleaning up their dog doo. But with the next bit, memory loss seems to kick in!

Some folks leave poo bags at the edge of the path - intending to collect it on the way back -but then accidentally (or on purpose) forget about it.

Worse! And Jock just doesn’t understand this - others hang it on trees! Why? Do they also intend collecting it on the way back, before the memory loss kicks in?

And others still deliberately leave poo bags, hiding them under bushes or tree roots - NOOOOO!

The poo inside the bag will decompose eventually, but the plastic bag won’t - it will be there for a very long time. Even biodegradable poo bags can take 3-6 months to decompose fully, and they can leave a sludge of toxic chemicals.

So dog walkers must finish the jobbie by binning their poo bags!

Jock o' Bennachie
Jock Says: Never leave poo bags behind-finish the jobbie, bag it and bin it. If there’s no bin, take it home!

Hang on a minute, wildlife poops on Bennachie, so what’s all the fuss about?

The waste they leave behind is good for the environment- the animals have eaten what has been produced by the ecosystem and their poo is just returning resources back to the ecosystems.

Most dogs are fed on commercial dog food so their poo contains high quantities of nutrients which will eventually cause an imbalance in the ecosystem.

Here's what the Scottish SPCA Have To Say

We talked to the ScottishSPCA about the problem of litter and wildlife. Here’s what they say:

  • Scotland’s animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA saw an increase of 17% in calls about litter 1 January to 31 March 2021 compared to the previous year. 118 jobs have been raised involving animals and discarded rubbish this year which is up from the same period in 2020 when there were 99. In addition, environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has recently warned of a looming litter emergency with data showing an 111% increase in significantly littered sites since 2007.
  • The Scottish SPCA get countless reports every year of animals ingesting or becoming trapped or caught in litter or discarded fishing wire. Some litter is a choking hazard or can cause damage and restrict an animal’s ability to eat which can lead to starvation. Animals can also ingest rubbish which can be fatal.
  • The animals most affected by litter with the 118 calls include:
    • 70+ wild birds and swans
    • 18 gulls
    • 6 seals
    • 3 deer
    • 3 geese
    • 3 foxes
    • And cats, badgers, cows and goats.

They are supporting the Paws on Plastic campaign. Here are the details remember to be very careful picking up litter, and be especially aware of COVID, so always follow the guidelines carefully.

Real Life Stories from the Scottish SPCA

This little hedgehog was snuffling around in the undergrowth and managed to get its head stuck through a beer can holder. These are extremely dangerous as they are made from plastic which is very difficult to tear meaning when am animal gets trapped in one it can cause serious wounds and eventually strangulation. The hedgehog was spotted by a member of the public so was one of the lucky ones.
It’s not just mammals that can get caught up in the beer can holders. Millions of birds also are seriously injured or killed by them. They can get trapped round beaks and wings meaning the bird is unable to eat or fly. If you are discarding a can holder in the bin, make sure that you cut them up so there are no complete holes.
This young kestrel managed to get himself all caught up in some discarded netting this caused serious injuries to his leg and would eventually cut off the circulation. He also is unable to fly or catch prey which would lead to starvation.
Plastic bags cause a huge risk to lots of wild animals, this hedgehog got wrapped up in the handles of a carrier bag and stuck to all his little spines meaning he was found dragging it along with him as he wandered along. He was quickly freed with no injuries ?
Fox Trapped in Litter
Fox Trapped in Litter
A member of the public spotted this nosey fox was obviously looking for some tasty treat and managed to get his head stuck in a milk carton. Foxes are scavengers and will investigate any litter lying around in the chance they will come across food! Luckily someone spotted them as eventually the fox would have died of suffocation or starvation.
Fox Freed From Litter
Fox Freed From Litter
This was her afterwards looking very shocked and scared.
Hedgehog Trapped in Litter
Hedgehog Trapped in Litter
Another hedgehog who managed to get his head stuck in the lid of a McFlurry, being hard plastic this would dig right into his neck and strangle him. As hedgehog’s heads are very close to the ground there is more chance of them crawling through litter and finding themselves stuck or injured.
Pets with Litter Collected on Bennachie
Pets with Litter Collected on Bennachie
Pets can also be harmed by litter. Dogs especially can often pick up rubbish and eat it, especially if it smells like food. This can result in an expensive vet bill and there is the risk that whatever your pet has eaten could kill it.
Litter in Trees
Litter in Trees
More recently we have seen a lot of injuries to wildlife from people throwing facemasks away. This pigeon was hanging from a tree after getting caught up in a facemask.
Hedgehog Trapped In Litter
Hedgehog Trapped In Litter
This Hedgehog was snuffling inside an empty tub of fish food and managed to get it stuck on its head. Luckily we mananged to get it safely removed and he was released back into the wild after a few days rest and recuperation.

How Can We Help?

What can we do to help Jock and his friends?

Things don't have to be this way, we can fix this for Jock and Bennachie’s wildlife! We can all make a difference, YOU can make a difference!

Please watch these videos.

ouTube Video: Bin It! To The Beat Primary Animation
No Litter Generation

One of the best things we can do is to make sure we don’t drop litter ourselves. If you're out and about and there’s no bin, just take your rubbish home!

Leave no trace - after all, carrying your litter off the hill will certainly be easier once you’ve eaten and drunk your tasty snacks.

Have you got the bottle? Always pop your drinks bottles , pouches and cartons in the bin - or take them home with you to recycle

Be good with food! Did you know a food bin full of food waste can generate enough electricity to power a light bulb for 24 hours! But only if it ends up in the recycling.

Don’t drop your leftovers either, put them in the food bin, and the container in the recycling or bin.

It’s a takeway, not a throwaway! Make sure you dispose of your takeaway litter responsibly, so you don't endanger wildlife

When your can’s out of juice... bin it! Crush your drinks cans and CAREFULLY pull the tab back to cover the hole before recycling them

Slam dunk your junk! Your actions could save lives! Think about Bennachie’s wildlife - they can’t tell the difference between food and plastic. Use the bins provided or take your rubbish home.

Tie a knot in plastic bags before recycling them, to help prevent animals becoming injured or dying

Wash containers and put the lids back on before recycling them, to stop animals getting their heads stuck in them

Who doesn’t love a balloon? When you're finished with it cut it up before binning

Chinese lanterns - these are a serious risk, just don’t go there!

Glass - does it jar with you? Don’t bottle it, be sure to wash them and recycle to prevent injuries to pets, wildlife and the environment

Cut all the loops on plastic six can holders, so creatures don't get stuck.

Cut elastic bands before binning them, so animals don't get stuck or entangled in them

Be a poo fighter! Make sure you finish the jobbie , bag it and bin your dog’s doo doo!

Rubbish Excuses!

The bin was full - find another, or take your rubbish home!

I couldn’t find a bin - if you can carry it on to Bennachie when it’s full, you can certainly carry it off when it’s empty!

It’s the Council’s job to clear litter - NO-ONE is paid to pick up litter on Bennachie, and Jock can’t do it all by himself!

You can’t afford to be trashy - there’s an £80 fine for dropping litter!

There’s NO excuse for littering!


Clean Up Scotland – Litter Picking Guidance for Groups
Litter Picking Guidance for Groups (PDF) Clean Up Scotland
Clean Up Scotland Workers
Clean Up Scotland
Clean Up Scotland Workers
Clean Up Scotland

Litter Competition

Take part in our competition, you could win a fab prize!

Create a colourful A4 size poster

Your poster should incorporate one of these themes:

  • Keep Bennachie tidy for all - please take your rubbish home!
  • Encourage people to take home all their rubbish or put it in a bin
  • Get dogs to educate their owners… stop leaving dog poo or poo bags by the path or hanging in trees ( these are NOT Christmas trees) – either put in a bin or take home!
  • No one likes putting their foot in dog pooh so remove away from paths - bag it and bin it!
  • Litter can hurt wildlife!
  • Protect, Respect and Enjoy Bennachie

Consider involving Jock o' Bennachie in one of these themes as he is definitely hates rubbish, and would be proud to see how much you care!

All posters will be displayed on a trail near to the Bennachie Visitor Centre or Rowantree car park during the Big Bennachie Summer Clean In June 2021

Either use the online form below to upload a photograph or post your poster to:

Bailies of Bennachie
PO Box 11535
AB54 9AD

Closing Date 28th May 2021.

This competition this open to all ages.

The winning posters (and winners, if they would like) will be featured in the local press , social media and ongoing efforts by the Bailies of Bennachie to tackle litter on the hill.

The winners will receive a lifetime membership of the Bailies of Bennachie and a small prize. 

Remember to make your promise to Jock, we’d love to see your videos, send them to

The full set of rules are available (see Competition Rules for details).

Competition Entry Form
I have read and accepted the competition rules (Required)

Jocks Doric Litter Story and Make Jock and Bennachie a Promise

Now is the time for you to act!

I promise to respect you, protect you and I’m going to enjoy being with you. I will take all my litter to the bins or I will take it home.

Why not get permission to e-mail Jock a copy of your message - this could be an animation, a voice recording, or even a video recording.

With permission, he might well use it on social media.

E-Mail your promise to

Make sure as you leave for home you’ve made Jock proud of how you’ve behaved on the hill. Feel good that you have done your bit for all the wildlife whose home you have enjoyed.

Leave no trace of your visit, just your footprints. That’s something for you to be very proud of as you drive home!

If you are taking part in a litter pick make sure you follow the guidelines, and be especially aware of COVID-19.

The Bailies of Bennachie are organising an event to raise awareness of the litter situation, including a litter pick on Saturday 5 June 2021 - keep an eye out for further information, perhaps you and your family would like to lend a helping hand
Jock o' Bennachie
Jock o' Bennachie

Further Information

For more information about these topics please visit some of the following links. If you would like to suggest any additional links please do not hesitate to Contact Us.


For Teachers


Keep Scotland Beautiful are coordinating a summer clean as part of their Clean Up Scotland Campaign. Learn more below.

Fancy a jigsaw? Enjoy these.

Children Walking In Forrest

Jock o' Bennachie is very grateful to Keep Scotland Beautiful, Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish SPCA and the RSPB for their support in making these resources.

Also see our Summer Programme, Spring Programme, Winter Programme and Autumn Programme

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.