RSPCA Cymru has issued a reminder about the importance of responsible angling, after a herring gull was trapped by an unattended, fully-baited rod in North Wales.
The warning comes with recreational fishing activity expected to increase in Wales amid an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The Welsh Government has confirmed that local, socially-distanced fishing has been allowed under regulations previously passed into law – and with people now allowed to exercise more than once a day, it is anticipated that fishing activity may increase.
Officers from the animal welfare charity were alerted after a gull was caught on a fishing hook, after a fully baited rod was left unattended on an open boat on a beach at Lower Gate Street in Conwy. The gull flew down to eat the peeler crab bait and was subsequently trapped by his throat, in an incident last Friday (15 May).
The gull was desperately trying to escape, but was unable to, and the fishing hook dug deeper into the bird’s throat as he tried to struggle free. The situation was made more precarious for the gull with the tide also due in.
Fortunately, RSPCA inspector Andrew Broadbent was able to take pressure off the fishing line and safely remove the hook from the gull’s throat. However, the charity says many other animals caught by fishing litter or unattended gear are “not so fortunate”.
The RSPCA say that while most anglers are “very responsible”, it “beggars belief” that a fully baited rod with peeler crab was left unattended and posing such a blatant danger to local wildlife.
Following the rescue, Inspector Broadbent said: “This herring gull was horribly trapped in a fishing boat, moored at Conwy Quay. The bird was caught by his throat, and with the tide due in, this was a really horrible situation.
“Fortunately, we were able to free the gull – but many birds and other wildlife trapped by fishing line or hooks are not so fortunate. We’re just relieved this particular incident had a happy ending.
“It beggars belief that a rod fully baited with peeler crab was left attended like this. It posed a real danger to surrounding wildlife, as this poor herring gull found out.
“We know most anglers are very responsible. But with fishing activity likely to increase with more exercise allowed, we urge those fishing to follow the Angling Trust’s Take 5 campaign and make use of the recycling scheme to dispose of their waste tackle and line. Small steps like this can help prevent animal suffering.”