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RSPCA warns of fishing litter hazards after swan found with hook above eye in Shropshire

Photo: RSPCA

The latest incident comes as the charity highlights a 48% increase in fishing litter incidents

The RSPCA boat rescue team helped a swan with a fishing hook embedded just above its eye on a lake in Shropshire.

The animal welfare charity received a call about the swan’s plight and attended to try and help at the lake at Walcot Hall, Lydbury North.

After two attempts to catch the reluctant swan, Inspectors Dave McCartney, Kate Parker and Phil Lewis, part of the boat rescue team, attended on Wednesday 8 July and were successfully able to contain the bird.

Inspector Dave McCartney said: “This poor swan had a fishing hook stuck right above his eye but unfortunately he had proved tricky to catch the previous two days. He was also accompanied by his female mate and a young cygnet so he was quite protective.

“During the commotion, my colleague Phil was able to contain the swan and I cut the sharp end of the fishing hook off and pulled it out. Luckily, the actual injury was minimal and so after a quick check over we were able to reunite the swan with his family.

“This swan was clearly quite robust and very lucky but sadly fishing litter injuries don’t always have a happy ending. It’s incredibly important that fishing litter is disposed of properly as this could save an animal’s life.”

This latest incident comes as the charity highlights a huge rise in the number of animals injured by fishing litter this summer - with a 48% increase between May and June this year. 

The charity suspects that the easing of lockdown put in place by the pandemic, along with a spell of good weather, has seen a rise in people taking up outdoor activities such as fishing, causing an excess of discarded angling litter. 

The RSPCA has received 393 calls about fishing litter across England & Wales since the beginning of the year, with 97% of those calls made between May, June and July.

Most anglers are very responsible but it only takes one careless person to endanger the life of an animal. We urge all anglers to follow the Angling Trust’s Take 5 campaign and make use of the recycling scheme to dispose of waste tackle and line.

Top tips include:

  • Take old fishing line and spools to recycling points in local tackle shops or fisheries. Your nearest recycling point can be found on the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS) website. Alternatively, old fishing line can be posted to the address on the ANLRS page.
  • Be aware of surrounding trees – discarded line caught in foliage causes problems for wildlife.
  • Don’t leave bait unattended – always remove it from the hook and put it in a safe place.
  • Use a bait box.
  • Dispose of any litter you see, even if it’s not your own.

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