RSPCA officers raced to the aid of a swan with a fishing hook stuck in his neck, prompting a reminder about the dangers fishing litter poses to the nation’s wildlife.
Officers were alerted after the troubled male swan was spotted at the half round pond on Swansea Enterprise Park. He was found with a barbed hook in his neck, with bait and line still attached.
The RSPCA attended the scene on Sunday 24 May, and were able to safely remove the hook and carry out a thorough welfare assessment at the site – with the swan thankfully able to be returned to the pond immediately. The rescue took place only days after the pond was reopened to anglers.
Officers Keith Hogben and Paula Milton were eager not to remove the swan from the pond area if possible, as his partner and young cygnets were present. They were “relieved” they could deal with the swan at the pond as this was the least stressful way to treat the swan.
This rescue marks the latest incident dealt with by the RSPCA where a swan’s welfare was placed into danger by fishing litter. On the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, a swan was rescued, rehabilitated and released at Pwll after swallowing angling litter. Meanwhile, only days earlier – at Pen-Y-Fan Pond in Crumlin – a swan had to be rescued after being spotted with fishing line caught around their legs and back.
RSPCA Cymru say most anglers are “very responsible” – but that these incidents show that too often litter is not dealt with properly. The RSPCA urges anglers to follow the Angling Trust’s Take 5 campaign and make use of the Angling Trust’s fishing tackle recycling scheme to dispose of their waste tackle and line.
The warning comes with recreational fishing activity thought to have increased in Wales amid a recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The Welsh Government has confirmed that local, socially-distanced fishing has been allowed under regulations previously passed into law – and with people having been allowed to exercise more than once a day in recent weeks, increased fishing activity is likely to be taking place.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “We found this swan with the fishing hook stuck in his neck, in what could have been a very precarious situation for the poor bird.
“Fortunately, we were able to safely remove the hook at Swansea Enterprise Park. After a thorough welfare check, it was safe to release him back to the wild where he belongs.
“Sadly, this whole incident could have been avoided if this fishing litter hadn’t been discarded.
“This was a set-up used by a carp angler, as the bait was hair rigged tiger nut and fake sweetcorn – with both the bait and line still attached to the barbed hook in the swan’s neck.
“We know most anglers are very responsible – but the number of incidents our officers in Wales have dealt with recently highlights what a problem this is for Wales’ swans, and other wildlife. We urge anglers to follow the Angling Trust’s Take 5 campaign and encourage responsible behaviour.”
RSPCA officers remain on the frontline dealing with emergencies amid the coronavirus outbreak. Should you wish to help keep the RSPCA on the frontline, you can support the charity online.
During this difficult time, the RSPCA’s priority is to help animals most in need. Please visit the RSPCA’s website for animal welfare advice, information and support.