Shocking find at Doncaster lake prompts appeal to anglers
A dead coot and three full bin bags of lethal angling litter have been retrieved from a Doncaster fishing lake.
The bird, found with fishing line trailing from its beak, is thought to have swallowed a fishing hook and been unable to feed.
At the height of Storm Gareth, RSPCA workers used a motorboat to reach a mass of discarded fishing line, hooks, lures and spinners from an island in Martinwells Lake.
Such items can be lethal to wildlife and anglers are urged to take special care packing up their gear, after visiting such areas.
RSPCA Wildlife Officer Sandra Dransfield said: “Huge amounts of broken fishing line were festooned over trees.
“We imagine it got there when anglers miscast and the lines then wrapped around the trees on this inaccessible island.
“Discarded line is a terrible hazard for wildlife, particularly as it can be almost invisible. This was brought home to us when we discovered a dead coot with fishing line trailing from its mouth and the other end wrapped around a tree branch.
“We suspect the poor animal had swallowed a hook which then caught in its throat, immobilising it and preventing it from feeding which ultimately killed it.”
She continued: “My colleagues, Inspector John Gibson, animal collection officer Katie Hetherington, and animal welfare officer Liz Braidley did a wonderful job in terrible conditions.
“Despite the challenge of being in a boat during the height of Storm Gareth, we filled three bin bags with a shocking amount of litter, from hooks, lures, spinners, bait holders and line, to bread bags, plastic and glass bottles, drink cans, crisp packets and a bicycle tyre.
“Hopefully, our clean-up will not only reduce the number of wild animals injured or killed from litter but will also make the area a more pleasant place for families to visit.
“We strongly urge those who enjoy fishing to be extra cautious to make sure 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.
“If members of the public see discarded litter we would encourage them to pick it up and put it in the bin. Their action could save an animals life.”
Dr Emily Smith, the Angling Trust’s Environment Manager said: "Anglers take the issue of litter extremely seriously and the vast majority are responsible custodians of our countryside and coasts.
“We run several initiatives to educate the small minority, working with our network of over 2,200 clubs, fisheries and trade members to promote angling club litter clean ups, in which thousands of anglers take part across the country.
“Our Take 5 Campaign encourages anglers to collect five pieces of (non-angling related) litter when packing their gear away. We are also supporting the Anglers' National Line Recycling Scheme, a new enterprise encouraging anglers to recycle used fishing line to minimise the amount of fishing line that is sent to landfill.
“The local volunteer group have done wonders bringing this lake back from a “no go” area to a great community asset and fishery. We’d be happy to support them, and the local water bailiff, by providing information leaflets and posters to inform anglers of the line recycling scheme and to encourage the clean up of other types of litter they come across at the lake.”
The RSPCA team scheduled its lake clean-up in advance of the launch of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean (22 March until 23 April) to minimise disturbance to nesting birds on the island.
If you see an animal you have concerns about please call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 123 9999.
For more information, visit the RSPCA’s fishing litter webpage at: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/litter/fishing