Swan on River Great Ouse found by RSPCA with two three barbed hooks embedded in face

A SWAN rescued from the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire had two three-barbed hooks embedded in his face and neck. The swan was on the river about half a mile from Ely, on the way to Pope s Corner. One of the hooks had lodged in the bottom part of his

A SWAN rescued from the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire had two three-barbed hooks embedded in his face and neck.

The swan was on the river about half a mile from Ely, on the way to Pope's Corner. One of the hooks had lodged in the bottom part of his beak and the other was embedded in his neck. They were joined by fishing line, meaning that the swan was unable to lift his head or feed.

RSPCA animal welfare officer (AWO) Kathy Hornig and animal collection officer (ACO) Justin Stubbs used an RSPCA boat to go out onto the water last Wednesday to reach the stricken bird. Once they realised the extent of the injuries, they took the swan to the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre for treatment.

The swan's beak was slightly wounded, but the injury to his neck was more serious due to the way the barbs had penetrated his skin. Once the hooks were removed, the vet found an air weapon pellet in the swan's chest, showing he had also been shot in the past.


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AWO Hornig said: "If we hadn't been contacted about this swan he would probably have died as he had no chance of eating at all. These hooks cause a huge amount of pain and injury to swans and other wildlife. We are making an appeal to all anglers to please use barbless hooks and take their fishing hooks and line away with them.

"It's about acting responsibly around wild birds."

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The swan is now recovering and will be released as soon as he is well enough.

Environment Agency guidelines advise against the use of barbed hooks, particularly those with three barbs, which are very difficult to remove.

They also advise anglers not to leave rods and line unattended.

In 2008, the RSPCA received 1,959 calls involving swans and fishing litter. This was slightly down from 2007 when 2,167 calls were received, although the numbers are still extremely high.

East Winch admitted 18 swans injured by fishing litter in 2008, 10 more than in 2007.

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