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Birds trapped in fishing equipment at Brooklands Lake, Dartford


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Wildlife warriors are calling for more action after an increasing number of birds were caught on discarded fishing equipment.

The ongoing issue at Brooklands Lake in Dartford is getting worse, says volunteer rescuer Joelle Larney who patrols the park which is home to a wide selection of fish and birds, including swans.

A swan with a hook stuck in its neck. Picture supplied by: Laura Edie
A swan with a hook stuck in its neck. Picture supplied by: Laura Edie

The society which runs the lake says it does everything it can to keep things safe and would welcome more volunteers to help spread the message.

Joelle said: "It is just going on and on constantly. I know there are always birds down there with hooks and lines. It is a huge issue.

"I am obsessed with birds, and to see one struggling or suffering is really, really upsetting. It is not the birds' fault.

"It is heartbreaking and I do not know how to stop it. It is avoidable."

The 56-year-old, who volunteers with London Wildlife Protection and runs a micro-sanctuary for birds at her house in East Dartford, has been called to deal with injuries at the lakes over many years, but says it's getting worse.

She added: "There is a lot of work involved in this. It is an ordeal for them. The ones that cannot be treated on site and have to be removed and go elsewhere, it is a huge ordeal."

A cygnet had a fishing hook trapped in its knee cap. Picture: Joelle Larney
A cygnet had a fishing hook trapped in its knee cap. Picture: Joelle Larney

Dartford and District Angling and Preservation Society (DDAPS) runs the lake and a spokesman said everyone was made aware of its rules to not leave equipment behind, and put rubbish in the bins.

The society also has a rescuer it calls out to help injured wildlife, and volunteers who pick up litter.

Office manager at DDAPS Jane Pullen said: "They (anglers) are all supposed to take their rubbish home. We provide all the bins and do as much as we can. We do our best to tidy up but it is trying to make human beings do what they are supposed to.

"It is very tricky. It is ongoing, 99% of people do follow the rules but it is the 1% who do not.

"We do make sure people are aware. All the members already know and we always tell the day ticket holders."

The DDAPS prints the rules on the back of entry tickets and its bailiff patrols the lake seven days a week asking anglers if there are any problems, such as fishing line stuck in a tree which they could help remove.

Dartford councillor Laura Edie is calling for more action to be taken
Dartford councillor Laura Edie is calling for more action to be taken

Despite this, Councillor Laura Edie (Green), of Dartford Borough Council, has called for further action to help enforce the rules, and bring more awareness to the issues facing wildlife by increasing patrols and education.

She said: "It is heartbreaking seeing wildlife suffering from horrendous injuries caused by discarded fishing wire. You see people enjoying the walks around the lake and people do care for it.

"It is an ongoing issue here but it is the odd few individuals. Most of the angling community are conscientious and get rid of their waste. Yet, it only takes a few.

"I do think it needs to be addressed further. We have to think about the wildlife. It is a difficult issue but it is happening frequently.

"I know that (the society) can only do so much but we could increase community litter picks or community volunteers."

DDAPS office manager Jane said that although equipment was left behind by some anglers, they were not the only ones at fault as some members of the public who visit the lake also left behind rubbish.

In response to Cllr Edie's suggestions, the manager said the society would welcome other volunteers to help but could not see what else it could do to solve the issue.

A gull was killed last year due to being trapped on fishing line. Picture: Carly Ahlen
A gull was killed last year due to being trapped on fishing line. Picture: Carly Ahlen

In a letter to the leaseholders, Cllr Edie said: "I am sure that the majority of folk who use this space to fish are conscientious and clear up after themselves.

"However, the odd few individuals who do not are causing awful problems for the wildlife living at the lakes, by carelessly dumping their used wire, etc, without a second thought for the swans, geese and other animals that get tangled in it and experience debilitating injuries because of this selfish act."

It is not the first time these issues at Brooklands Lake have been raised.

Carly Ahlen, who runs Gabo Wildlife Foundation, pleaded with the anglers earlier this year to dispose of their equipment properly after she discovered a dead gull trapped in a fishing line.

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