RSPCA warns about fishing litter as it rescues Northern Gannet in Wales


The RSPCA has emphasised the dangers of discarded fishing gear after a Northern Gannet was injured by a discarded fishing lure in Rhyl.

The bird was rescued by RSPCA Cymru after becoming caught in fishing line and hooks on Towyn Beach in Rhyl, Denbighshire. The charity said the incident highlights the “massive dangers” which such litter poses to the nation’s wildlife.

RSPCA staff attended a call-out on 9 July to a Northern Gannet sat in the middle of a pebble beach, making no obvious attempt to move away from members of the public. An RSPCA officer found that the seabird had a fishing lure with treble hooks and line wrapped tightly around its right leg and wing. The fishing line was preventing the gannet from walking or flying, and the bird was taken into RSPCA care and transferred to specialist wildlife facilities.

The Northern Gannet was severely incapacitated by the fishing lure and hooks when the RSPCA came to rescue it (RSPCA Cymru).

Rehabilitation of the bird is now ongoing, with the fishing litter removed and support being given to tend to its injured leg. The gannet will remain at the RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, until it is ready to be returned to the wild.

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Fishing litter such as hooks, weights and lines can cause injury and death to wildlife, by embedding or piercing skin, being swallowed, becoming wrapped around an animal's body, or entangling them leading to starvation. The charity publishes some 'top tips for anglers', to help ensure fishing litter is disposed of appropriately.

RSPCA Inspector Mike Pugh said: “This poor gannet initially seemed bright and alert, but on closer inspection was completely constrained by fishing litter. There’s clearly massive dangers to Wales’s wildlife by leaving discarded fishing litter out like this. Fortunately, we were able to rescue this gannet, which is now undergoing rehabilitation at a specialist wildlife facility, but not all animals trapped in fishing litter are as lucky.

“[The] RSPCA continues to urge anglers to always take unwanted line home and dispose safely of rubbish to help protect wildlife.”

Written by: RSPCA Cymru