Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre

RSPCA warns anglers to dispose of tackle safely

A hedgehog’s horrific death has prompted a warning from the RSPCA about the dangers of carelessly discarding fishing tackle.

The juvenile hedgehog was taken to RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire after he was found entangled in a fishing line in a Nantwich garden.

They were able to free the injured animal and brought him to the centre near Nantwich. But when he was uncurled and examined by RSPCA staff it became clear he had swallowed a fishing hook attached to the line.

X-rays (see picture) showed the hook had perforated his oesophagus and sadly the extent of the internal damage he had suffered meant the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep.

RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre and Cattery manager Lee Stewart said: “When we examined the hedgehog’s mouth under general anaesthesia, the line was visible going further into the body.

“Sadly it was not possible to remove the hook and line surgically, so we decided the only option was to put him to sleep.

“It is a really sad incident, which should serve as another reminder of how vast are the repercussions of litter to wildlife and how devastating the consequences can be.”

Fishing litter is a growing problem affecting wildlife across the country and while, usually, it is waterfowl that are most affected by the careless actions of some anglers, other species are also falling victim to the perils of discarded hooks, lines and nets.

The RSPCA asks that all anglers take home any litter after fishing because tackle can easily snag animals and cause them dreadful injuries.

An angling recycling scheme has been set up where waste tackle and line can be disposed of safely after use. Litter recycling points are sited at Stapeley Grange and the RSPCA’s three other wildlife centres; West Hatch in Taunton, Somerset; East Winch near King’s Lynn, Norfolk and Mallydams Wood in Hastings, East Sussex as well as hundreds of other sites throughout the UK.

While the majority of anglers do dispose of litter properly, the animal charity says it is frustrating that those who don’t may not realise how dangerous it is to animals.

Staff at Stapeley Grange provide specialist care for the rehabilitation of wildlife throughout England and Wales. They also work with several wildlife rehabilitators,who can respond to emergencies like this one.

If you can’t find a wildlife rehabilitator to help, then contact the RSPCA online or call 0300 1234 999. 

To support the ongoing work of the wildlife hospital, during this extremely difficult time, please donate to the Wildlife JustGiving site.