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

The RSPCA boat rescue team helped a swan with a fishing hook embedded just above its eye on a lake in south 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, near Bishop's Castle.

After two attempts to catch the reluctant swan, Inspectors Dave McCartney, Kate Parker and Phil Lewis, part of the boat rescue team, attended again on July 8 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.

The swan was found with a fish hook above its eye on a lake at Walcott Hall, Lydbury North

“Whilst we were preparing to launch the boat about 30 swans came from another lake onto the lake where we were, and what happened next was remarkable. The male swan with the hook injury, lined up all the other swans and then chased them off into the other lake, coming back to get the remaining birds into a neat line and proceeded to chase these ones off too, leaving himself, his mate and his cygnet. It truly was an amazing sight to see and showed that we really did have a brave and stubborn swan on our hands.

“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.”

The swan was found with a fish hook above its eye on a lake at Walcott Hall, Lydbury North

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 per cent 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 and Wales since the beginning of the year, with 97 per cent of those calls made between May, June and July.

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