Urgent warning issued after increase in animals swallowing lethal fishing litter
The RSPCA has issued an urgent warning to new and inexperienced anglers after a surge in cases of animals injured by 'fishing litter' like old line, weights and barbed hooks.
The charity said the number of calls last year reporting incidents almost doubled over the summer, rocketing by 97 per cent. There were 186 reports made in July, compared to 94 in January.
The RSPCA said it received 1,245 calls about fishing tackle across England and Wales throughout 2022, with around half of all calls made between June and September.
Greater Manchester was named as a hot-spot area by the charity, with 71 calls received. In April, a young swan was left with a 'permanent hole' after a fishing hook with a ball weight attached went through the bird's beak and pierced its tongue. The swan was spotted on the top lake at Myrtle Road in Middleton.
The charity said it was treated and later released, but was left permanently scarred.
Also in April a pigeon was left hanging from a tree by old fishing line over a lake at a popular Greater Manchester park. Meanwhile in Cheshire, a hedgehog sadly could not be saved after swallowing a fishing hook and line in Nantwich last October.
It was trapped about 30 feet up overhanging the reservoir in Alexandra Park in Edgeley, Stockport, and had to be cut free by a firefighter.
As National Fishing Month gets underway, the RSPCA said it suspects that after schools break up, more people will take up outdoor activities like fishing for the first time.
RSPCA senior scientific officer Evie Button said: "This seasonal, summer leap in the number of calls about wild animals injured by fishing litter is a real cause for concern. Animals like swans, geese and even hedgehogs are swallowing lethal fish hooks or piercing their beaks, or their wings or legs are getting tangled up in fishing line. They’re suffering all sorts of awful injuries, sometimes with tragic consequences.
"Our inspectors and officers are working hard to rescue as many of these stricken animals as they can. Thankfully, many can be saved but they may require a lot of care, treatment and rehabilitation. Others aren't so lucky and sometimes their injuries are just too severe for them to survive.
"It's tragic for animal lovers like us to see the effects of this discarded litter, especially when there is such a simple solution: clear up your litter - whether it’s fishing-related or general - and take it home with you.
"We're particularly concerned that this rise in angling litter injuries may be due to new and inexperienced anglers taking up the activity, as most experienced anglers are very responsible when it comes to wildlife and taking care of their equipment - so it’s more important than ever to get the message out there.
"Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but unfortunately it only takes one piece of snagged or discarded fishing line to endanger the life of an animal. Discarded line, in particular, is a terrible hazard for wildlife, especially as it can be almost invisible.
"We're asking all anglers to be extra cautious and make sure nothing is left behind by following our simple steps to protect the environment and wildlife from harm."