Gull’s fatal injury highlights hazard of discarded fishing litter in South Yorkshire, RSPCA say

The RSPCA is warning of the perils of carelessly discarding fishing line after an entangled gull suffered fatal injuries when it became trapped on an overhead power line in Rotherham.

By Alana Roberts
Saturday, 26th October 2019, 3:11 pm
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 5:49 pm
Workers freeing the black headed gull which was found entangled in some fishing wire in Thrybergh
Workers freeing the black headed gull which was found entangled in some fishing wire in Thrybergh

The black headed gull was found hanging from a telephone line in Thrybergh on Tuesday, October 22

Despite the best efforts of the charity’s inspector, power grid workers and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, it sustained such severe injuries to its left wing that it had to be put to sleep.

RSPCA Inspector Sara Jordan is now urging anglers to ensure they don’t leave anything behind when they’re done fishing in the hope of preventing similar incidents.

The black headed gull which was found entangled in some fishing wire in Thrybergh

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She said: “The poor bird had fishing line wrapped around its wings and attached to that was a plastic fish-shaped lure and a three-pronged fishing hook which had caught on the overhead cable.

“The bird was stuck - I knew this would require specialist help, so I contacted South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for assistance.

“When the Fire Officer attended, he told me that rather than being a telephone wire, the overhead cables were power lines, with a current in the region of 11,000 volts going through it and that the electricity board needed to become involved.”

After the power was cut, an emergency worker from the National Grid attended the incident where insulated extendable poles and rescue knife attachment was used to free the gull.

It was then taken to Springfield Vets in Rotherham and put under anaesthetic.

Upon closer examination, it was decided the bird would be euthanised after it was found the fishing wire had cut through to the deep tissues into the muscle meaning it would be unlikely it would ever regain full use of its wing.

Sara added: “I’d also like to emphasise that if anyone finds a bird in a similar situation they should not try to attempt to rescue it themselves - it could be extremely dangerous.”

The RSPCA received 3,274 calls last year about animals affected by angling litter and has introduced fishing tackle recycling facilities at its wildlife centres to help reduce injuries and fatalities.

“Fishing litter is a major problem and it is very damaging to wildlife,” Sara continued. “We strongly urge those who enjoy fishing to be extra careful to ensure nothing is left behind.

“Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but it only takes one careless person to endanger the life of an animal.”

Angling litter recycling points are now sited at the RSPCA’s four wildlife centres as well as hundreds of other sites throughout the UK.

To report concerns about an animal, contact the RSPCA’s hotline on 0300 1234 999.