A nature lover is appealing to anglers to dispose of fishing tackle and other detritus responsibly when visiting the River Medway to avoid inadvertently harming wild birds.
Tovil resident Jill Hinde recently called in Ray Allibone of Swampy’s Wildlife Rescue to help an injured cygnet near The Boatyard that appeared to have swallowed a large amount of line, preventing it from eating.
Further examination revealed the bird had swallowed a fishing hook that had become lodged in the lining of its throat.
Mr Allibone said he believed it would have been used by a fisherman who had attempted to wrench out the hook, snapping the line.
He said: “It would have been much better if the chap had cut the line and called someone like myself.
“It is something I could have resolved at the bankside with much less harm to the bird.”
The cygnet was taken to a swan sanctuary in Surrey and had an operation to repair the damage.
It is expected to make a full recovery.
Other birds can be less lucky. Fishing line often pulls tight around a bird’s legs, killing the limb and leaving rescuers with no choice but to put the bird down.
Ms Hinde has watched the cygnet with its two parents since it hatched.
She says it is the second time in a year she has had to call for help with an injured bird – on a previous occasion she found a female swan with fishing line and a heavy lead weight caught around its feet.
She said: “The amount of fishing tackle and litter left in and around the river is disgusting, and there is no excuse for it.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA confirmed it had responded to two incidents involving fishing litter but on each occasion could not locate the bird in question.
For more information, visit the RSPCA's website.