RSPCA Cymru fears for wildlife as fishing litter injuries rocket over summer
A rise in reports of animals injured by discarded fishing litter has prompted the RSPCA to issue a stark warning to new and inexperienced anglers.
The warning comes as the number of calls last year to the charity reporting wildlife injured by angling litter – such as old fishing line, weights and barbed hooks – almost doubled over the summer, rocketing by 97%, with 186 reports in July compared to 94 in January.
The RSPCA received 1,245 calls about fishing litter across Wales and England throughout 2022, with around half (614 or 49.3%) of those calls made between June and September.
In Wales there were 72 reports last year – the most coming from Cardiff (15), Swansea (10) and Denbighshire (10) and Flintshire (10).
As National Fishing Month gets underway (1-31 August), the charity suspects that amid forecasted warmer weather and schools breaking up, more people are taking up outdoor activities such as fishing for the first time.
The animal welfare charity have warned that inexperience can lead to more dangerously discarded angling litter.
RSPCA senior scientific officer Evie Button said: “This seasonal, summer leap in the number of calls about wild animals injured by fishing litter is a real cause for concern.
“Animals like swans, geese and even hedgehogs are swallowing lethal fish hooks or piercing their beaks, or their wings or legs are getting tangled up in fishing line. They’re suffering all sorts of awful injuries, sometimes with tragic consequences.
“Our inspectors and officers are working hard to rescue as many of these stricken animals as they can. Thankfully, many can be saved but they may require a lot of care, treatment and rehabilitation. Others aren’t so lucky and sometimes their injuries are just too severe for them to survive.
“It’s tragic for animal lovers like us to see the effects of this discarded litter, especially when there is such a simple solution: clear up your litter – whether it’s fishing-related or general – and take it home with you.
“We’re particularly concerned that this rise in angling litter injuries may be due to new and inexperienced anglers taking up the activity, as most experienced anglers are very responsible when it comes to wildlife and taking care of their equipment – so it’s more important than ever to get the message out there.”
In recent months in Wales, a swan was found with a fishing hook embedded into her skin in Mumbles whilst a duck died in Cardiff after fishing litter wire became trapped tightly around the bird’s leg at Hendre Lake.
Evie added: “Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but unfortunately it only takes one piece of snagged or discarded fishing line to endanger the life of an animal. Discarded line, in particular, is a terrible hazard for wildlife, especially as it can be almost invisible.
“We’re asking all anglers to be extra cautious and make sure nothing is left behind by following our simple steps to protect the environment and wildlife from harm.”
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