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Water birds suffer horrific injuries from discarded fishing gear - East Winch set to tackle the problem

East Winch RSPCA Wildlife Centre has become a recycling point for discarded fishing gear to prevent more incidents of harm to animals.

In 2018 across the country wildlife were injured and killed after swallowing fishing hooks or becoming entangled in discarded lines.

Water birds were the most affected with the species with the highest numbers of calls being swans (1,684), geese (461) and ducks (283).

Swan found with fishing bait hook injury(16480525)
Swan found with fishing bait hook injury(16480525)

Staff and volunteers at East Winch have been caring for a large number of birds and some of the most recent cases include:

A cygnet rescued from the Nottingham area on Sunday, September 1, had a hook in his oesophagus, which was attached to a line with a further two hooks.

The centre’s vet carried out surgery to remove the hook and he is now being given painkillers and antibiotics.

A gull was also found at Old Hunstanton on September 4, and is also being treated after he swallowed a fishing hook which also became stuck in his oesophagus.

Happy Ending:The Swan is now recovering at East Winch (16480523)
Happy Ending:The Swan is now recovering at East Winch (16480523)

The hook was on a line attached to a 150g weight.

The weight meant the gull could not take off or fly.

Vets successfully operated to remove the hook. It is also being treated with antibiotics and pain relief.

Vets at the centre have also been treating an adult swan which was brought in on August 16 from the Peterborough area after he was found with a hook also stuck in his neck.

Vets operated and removed the hook, but the neck was severely infected and a second round of surgery was required to drain away the fluid from the wound.

The Recycling point at East Winch (16480521)
The Recycling point at East Winch (16480521)

Holly Barber, anti-litter campaign manager for the RSPCA said:“We’re hoping that our new recycling facilities will help reduce the terrible toll that is taken on animals by carelessly discarded fishing tackle.

“Our records show that water birds are particularly vulnerable to this hazardous material.

“The majority of anglers do dispose of their litter properly and it is frustrating that those who don’t may not have realised how dangerous it is to animals.

“Discarded line in particular is a terrible hazard for wildlife, especially as it can be almost invisible.”

The dedicated recycling point, one of four at RSPCA centres nationwide, will enable those visiting the wildlife reserve to discard of their fishing gear in the proper manner.

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