Fishing litter warning after heron rescued with hooks in his throat

Fishing litter warning after heron rescued with hooks in his throat

A heron with a triple pike hook caught under his beak is being cared for us.

We were called to Billingford in Norfolk after the Heron was spotted by concerned members of the public, who managed to confine the bird and then contacted us for help.

Our inspector Jon Knight attended and removed the lifelike fish float, which was weighing the bird down, but as the hooks still remained he took him to our East Winch Wildlife Centre, where vets gave him anaesthetics so they could then carefully remove the hooks.

Our centre manager at East Winch, Alison Charles, said:

This poor bird was in a lot of trouble and was found well away from rivers, lakes or any water. We're grateful to the members of the public who helped him.

He must have thought the float was a fish, as it's so realistic but sadly, it's a triple pike hook - which has three hooks with three barbs on each hook.

The inspector who rescued the heron removed the rubber fish as it was weighing the bird down, but once the heron came to us he needed an anaesthetic to gently remove the hooks. The bird is recovering in a warm, quiet cubicle, on antibiotics and we'll wait to see how he does.

The heron will remain at the centre until he has completely recovered and can then be released back to the wild.

Fishing litter recycling scheme

Sadly injuries to wildlife caused by fishing litter is something we see all too often and we strongly urge those who enjoy fishing to be extra careful to ensure nothing is left behind. Most anglers are very responsible when disposing of their litter, but it only takes one careless person to endanger the life of an animal.

We ask those who enjoy fishing to join the Angling Trust's Take 5 campaign and make use of the Anglers National Line recycling scheme to dispose of their waste tackle and line.

Angling litter recycling points are now sited at our four wildlife centres:

  • West Hatch in Taunton, Somerset
  • Stapeley Grange in Nantwich, Cheshire
  • East Winch near King's Lynn, Norfolk
  • and Mallydams Wood in Hastings, East Sussex.

They're also at hundreds of other sites throughout the UK.

If any member of the public sees discarded litter around then we would ask them to do their bit and pick it up to dispose of it properly, in a bin, and they may save an animal's life.

How fishing litter can cause harm to wildlife

All sorts of fishing litter can cause problems:

  • fishing line can wrap around necks causing deep wounds in flesh and cutting off the blood supply
  • hooks can pierce beaks, become embedded in the skin or get caught in the bird's throat
  • and weights can be swallowed causing internal injuries and blockages.

Here are some of our tips to help tackle the problem:

  • Taking unwanted fishing line home and cut it into pieces before putting in the bin
  • Being aware of surrounding trees - discarded line caught in foliage can entangle wildlife
  • Don't leave bait unattended - always remove from the hook and put it in a safe place
  • Use a bait box - this will reduce the chances of leaving behind an empty bait tin by mistake
  • Don't leave hooks, weights or other paraphernalia behind.

Find out more information on our fishing litter page.

If you spot an animal in distress, please call our helpline on 0300 1234 999.