Sussex

Call for Ditchling angling ban after swans injured

Rescued swan Image copyright WRAS
Image caption The rescued swan needed an operation to remove the fishing hook from its tongue

A wildlife charity is calling for fishing to be banned at an East Sussex venue after abandoned angling equipment caused injuries to 25 swans.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue said it had rescued 25 birds in the last 12 months at Ditchling Common Country Park.

In the latest incident a fishing hook had to be removed from a swan's tongue in the charity's operating theatre.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) said it inspected the lakes and removed any discarded fishing equipment.

The injured swan, along with its three cygnets was rescued on Thursday after the charity received six calls from walkers who reported seeing the bird with blood on its body and a fishing hook in its mouth.

Image copyright WRAS
Image caption The swan's three cygnets were also rescued by East Sussex Wildlife Rescue

Wildlife rescue founder Trevor Weeks said a large carp hook was embedded in the swan's tongue.

"The removal of the hook was a very dangerous procedure and could have resulted in the death of the swan," he said.

"We've had a whole variety of calls to that lake.

"We are getting everything from abscesses in their necks where hooks have become embedded, to breathing difficulties where they have got lines tightly wrapped round their necks.

"There are a lot of very responsible anglers and they are just as concerned about the problem as we are but if this doesn't improve they should be banning it completely."

Anglers need to apply for a permit to fish at the country park.

ESCC said the danger discarded fishing equipment poses to wildlife is made clear to anglers when they are granted a permit to fish.

"We litter-pick at the site once a week but, in light of the recent injury to the swan, we will carry out a further inspection at the pond and surrounding area and remove any discarded fishing lines, hooks and litter that we find," it said.

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