People were being warned about the dangers of discarded litter yesterday after two stags became entangled in a length of rope while rutting.

The animals got stuck in a headlock after the rope became entangled in their antlers on land n the village of Lawley, near Telford.

A passer-by saw what animal welfare officers described as "a life-threatening predicament" and called for help.

It took five men - an RSPCA inspector, the local deer warden and his under-keeper, a gamekeeper at a nearby castle and his beat-keeper - almost half-an-hour to hold both the Roe deer stags down and cut the twisted ropes.

I nspector Nayman Dunderdale, from the RSPCA, said: "Stags are extremely strong animals that are known to fight. They were exhausted from trying to free themselves which they would never have managed on their own. It is lucky that someone spotted them and sought help, or they could have died.

"I would like to thank everyone who helped with the rescue. It took all our physical strength to hold the stags to the ground while trying to keep them as calm as possible.

"After 25 minutes we cut all the ropes and individually released them after they had been checked for injuries. Both stags ran away unharmed from their frightening ordeal.

"We urge people to always put their rubbish in a bin. On this occasion, a discarded piece of rope nearly resulted in the painful death of two beautiful stags."