The “devastating impact” fishing litter can have on wildlife has once again been brought to light – this time in Swansea.
RSPCA Cymru was contacted after a herring gull was found entangled in three barbs, attached to a hard body lure disguised as a fish.
An RSPCA inspector said the animal was “the single most distressed bird” she has dealt with in nine years on the frontline. The gull was found on King Edwards Road in the city.
The litter had caused numerous injuries – including to the beak and feet; and other birds were found to be pecking at the struggling, injured herring gull when the RSPCA arrived at the scene.
RSPCA Cymru transferred the gull to Gower Bird Hospital, who removed the metalwork and administered pain relief and antibiotics. It is not known at this stage whether the gull will survive the injuries - however, the initial recovery process has been positive.
Gemma Cooper, RSPCA inspector, said: “I am so angry about the needless suffering this poor gull has endured because someone couldn’t be bothered to discard their litter appropriately.
“Fishing litter can have a devastating impact on wild birds – and this poor herring gull is the latest example. Thankfully, a kind-hearted member of the public spotted the bird's plight and immediately contacted us.
“This poor gull probably thought he was in for a delicious snack – with the discarded hard body lure disguised as a fish. Instead, he ended up badly entangled and in excruciating pain.
“Struggling to get free has only made the gull’s injuries worse. One barb pierced his beak, meaning he was unable to open his mouth, while another tied his feet meaning he was unable to move properly.
“When I arrived, two magpies were pecking at the helpless gull. It was a shocking sight, and the single most distressed bird I have tended to in nine years with the RSPCA.
"Our thanks to go Gower Bird Hospital for their professionalism and expertise. They were able to remove the metalwork, and provide pain relief. We just hope this poor gull survives such an unnecessary, painful experience the fishing litter caused.”
The animal welfare charity continues to highlight how fishing litter - including hooks, weights and line - cause injury and, in many cases, death to thousands of wild animals across England and Wales every year.
Inspector Cooper added: “Our advice is simple. Please take unwanted fishing line home, don't leave baited tackle unattended, be aware of litter caught in foliage and use a bait box.
“Disposing safely of unwanted fishing litter helps save the lives of wild animals. We know most anglers are responsible and do this - but sadly that isn't always the case – as this poor Swansea herring gull found out.”
The RSPCA asks that all those who enjoy fishing to follow the Angling Trust’s ‘Take 5’ campaign and make use of the recycling scheme to dispose of their waste tackle.
More information on the impacts fishing litter can have on wildlife can be found on the RSPCA website.