Two RSPCA inspectors waded into the water of a frozen pond in Suffolk to help a stricken swan that had discarded fishing hooks embedded in its beak and neck.
The injured swan was reported to the RSPCA’s national control centre by a concerned member of the public who spotted the injured bird near Mill Tye, in Great Cornard, near Sudbury, on Wednesday morning (16 Jan).
RSPCA inspectors Jason Finch and Nicola Thorne donned their dry suits and waded into the water – breaking through frozen ice – to catch the swan, which had patches of blood on his neck.
Jason said: “Part of the pond was frozen, so we had to break the ice as we went into the pond. Swans can be quite tricky to catch, but we managed to corner him and catch him.
“You could see straight away that as well as the fishing hook embedded in his neck, the swan also had a hook in his beak.
“I was able to get that one out quite easily, but we took the swan to Mulberry Vets in Sudbury, where the team managed to get the other hook out and treat the injuries.”
Once the swan had been treated, Jason was then able to return to Mill Tye where he released the swan straight away to join his mate on the water.
“Thankfully the injuries in this instance were not too serious and so we were able to release the swan almost straight away.
“It just goes to show the danger to wildlife of discarded fishing litter though. Most anglers are extremely considerate, but it only takes a few discarded hooks or a piece of fishing line to cause potentially fatal injuries to an animal.”
Fishing litter injuries are the largest single cause of swan rescues – thought to be about an estimated 3,000 a year.
More than 800 wild birds have been admitted to the RSPCA’s wildlife centres alone between 2005 and 2011 as a result of entanglement and injuries caused by fishing litter. More than 60 per cent of these were swans.
The RSPCA has a number of tips for anglers to ensure that the wildlife around them stays safe.
1. Take unwanted fishing line home and cut it into small pieces before putting it in the bin.
2. Be aware of surrounding trees as discarded line caught up in foliage can entangle wildlife.
3. Don’t leave baited tackle unattended – always remove the bait from the hook and put the tackle in a safe place.
4. Use a bait box so that there is no chance of leaving an empty bait tin behind by mistake.
5. Keep your local stretch of river, canal or coastline litter free. Dispose safely of any rubbish you see, even if it is not your own.
People can download and put up the RSPCA’s fishing litter poster to raise awareness of the issue from http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/helpandadvice/litter/fishing
The RSPCA is only able to carry out rescues such as this thanks to generous donations from the public.
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).