A great spotted woodpecker was rescued by the RSPCA after getting tangled in fishing line in a tree – causing him to swing uncontrollably over a canal.


The RSPCA is releasing a video of the woodpecker to remind people about the hazards are fishing litter.

Last year, officers from the animal welfare charity rescued 697 animals from discarded fishing lines and other angling litter, such as hooks and barbs.

Luckily, the woodpecker – who was rescued from a canal in Gravelly Way, in Standeford, Wolverhampton, on Friday last week – was not fatally injured and was taken to Cuan Wildlife Centre, in Shropshire, where staff rehabilitated the bird back to health. He is due to be released back into the wild today (Tuesday 20 June).

However, not all animals caught in fishing litter can survive, which many suffering fatal and serious injuries as a result of getting tangled.

RSPCA inspector Kate Parker, who rescued the woodpecker, said: “The woodpecker had a barbed hook in his wing, as well as fishing line which was wrapped around his wing and a tree. He was clearly struggling and panicking in a bid to free himself – he was swinging like a pendulum.

“I was able to safely free him and I took him to a local wildlife centre so he could be observed, as we don’t know how long he was stuck for. It could have been so much worse for him – in the past we have had birds who have been strangled to death because of fishing lines, or choked on discarded fishing hooks.

“It is very frustrating as this could have been so easily avoided if someone had disposed of their fishing line correctly in the first place. Most anglers make the effort to retrieve and take home all their fishing line and tackle but some are not so careful, which result in incidents like this.

“We urge people to think twice and please dispose of their rubbish correctly, as hooks and lines can cause horrific injuries to wildlife. With a little more thought and care, an animal could be spared suffering.”

For more information about disposing of fishing litter properly please visit the RSPCA’s website here.

Top tips include:

● Take unwanted fishing line home and cut it into pieces before putting in the bin.

● Be aware of surrounding trees – discarded line caught in foliage causes problems for wildlife.

● Don’t leave bait unattended – always remove from the hook and put in safe place.

● Use a bait box.

● Dispose of any litter you see, even if it’s not your own.

The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3. (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message.)

The video can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/2siniqh