Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:12 UK

Fishing gear 'risks' to animals

Seal pup
A seal pup was found with a fish hook lodged in its mouth

The Scottish SPCA has urged anglers to take extra care after swans, ducks and seals have been hurt or killed by discarded fishing tackle.

In one incident a pair of swans was rescued after getting badly injured at Cauldshiels Loch in the Borders.

The group has also had to aid an eight-week-old seal pup found with a hook in its mouth at Town Pier, Fort William.

Ch Supt Mike Flynn said people should "tidy away every last piece of fishing tackle" in order to protect wildlife.

So far this year the animal welfare charity has responded to more than 170 calls from the public about the problem.

They have found swans, ducks, seals and gulls in pain and suffering after swallowing hooks or swimming through discarded lines.

Mr Flynn said: "Our inspectors and ambulance drivers are responding to calls on a weekly and sometimes daily basis at the moment and the sad thing is it's so unnecessary.

Linlithgow Loch
Sanquhar Pond, Forres
Townhill Loch, Dunfermline
Linlithgow Loch, Linlithgow
River Leven, Dunbartonshire
Forth and Clyde Canal, Kirkintilloch
Falkirk Wheel Canal
Bonnybridge Canal, Stirlingshire
Cauldshiels Loch, Galashiels
Lochside Park, Castle Douglas
Dalbeath Marsh, Cowdenbeath
Broadwood Loch, Cumbernauld
Colzium Pond, Kilsyth
Water of Leith, Edinburgh

"The vast majority of anglers are very responsible and take care to clear away their equipment after they've used it.

"What we're dealing with is a minority of people who don't respect the environment they are fishing in and the wildlife that inhabits it."

The incident at Cauldshiels Loch, in Galashiels, involved a pair of swans.

The female, who had young cygnets, had fishing line and lures down her throat and the male had a hook through his foot dragging line and debris with it.

Another inspector rescued a cygnet from Kirk Loch, Lochmaben, in Dumfries and Galloway.

It was caught up in fishing line with one tri-hook through its beak and another which had managed to catch the flesh on its wing and side.

The Scottish SPCA is currently caring for an eight-week-old seal pup at its Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife.

It was rescued from Town Pier in Fort William with a four pronged fishing hook in its mouth.

Mr Flynn said: "Luckily we managed to get these animals to a vet in time and they all survived, but in many cases others will endure a slow and painful death, often starving because they are unable to feed properly."

"We are urging anyone who enjoys the privilege of fishing in Scotland's inland and coastal waters to make sure that they tidy away every last piece of fishing tackle.

"It could save an animal's life."

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