A swan impaled on a fishing hook has been rescued from a borough beauty spot during an RSPCA operation.
A rescue operation has been carried out at Pennington Flash by the RSPCA, Leigh fire crew and members of the public after the struggling bird was spotted and the authorities called.
The injured bird was transferred to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, where the hook was removed.
She is now being treated on antibiotics and her rescuers remain hopeful that she will soon be returned to the wild.
Lee Stewart, manager of Stapeley Grange, said: “Sadly this isn’t an isolated incident as we regularly receive birds injured by fishing litter. Since 2011 we have admitted 219 swans who have suffered from the effects of discarded fishing litter - and that includes 26 so far this year.
“And that’s just swans - we also see other species such as ducks and herons which are admitted with injuries sustained from discarded litter.
“It was a excellent team effort on this occasion to rescue the poor swan, and she is now receiving the best care possible. It’s teamwork at its best.
“But we are always concerned that these rescues have to happen in the first place. Although most anglers do clean up after themselves, fishing litter is still a major problem and it is so damaging to wildlife - something we see first-hand all the time at the centre.
Anglers are now urged to make sure any fishing litter is removed as they leave, as discarded lines and hooks can easily snag water birds and other wildlife, causing terrible injuries and often death.
Ian Potter, the member of the public who contacted the RSPCA, helped the authorities to achieve an “emotional but happy ending.”
He said: “Four RSPCA officers arrived with an inflatable raft, which we carried some 400 metres down a narrow path to the pond.
“With one guy on the raft and one wading in the water the plan was to get the swan into the bulrushes and catch her. A long time later and no result despite sterling effort, so it was decided that another boat was needed. The RSPCA contacted the local fire brigade and in no time at all they arrived.
“My sincere thanks to the RSPCA officers,Gina, Dan, Steve and Dave and the Leigh fire crew for an excellent result and for all of the time and effort that was spent assisting this creature in distress. It was an emotional ending and a happy one.”
If you see an animal you have concerns about, please call the RSPCA's emergency line on 0300 1234 999.
For more information about disposing of fishing litter properly, visit the RSPCA's website.
Top tips include:
● Take unwanted fishing line home and cut it into pieces before putting in the bin.
● Be aware of surrounding trees – discarded line caught in foliage causes problems for wildlife.
● Don’t leave bait unattended – always remove from the hook and put in safe place.
● Use a bait box.
● Dispose of any litter