The East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) say they have been called to more than 25 incidents of animals being injured by discarded fishing gear at the lake in Ditchling Common Country Park in just one year.
The charity has released a graphic video of a fishing hook being removed from the tongue of a swan rescued on Thursday (June 2) to show the type of injuries animals suffer – and has slammed the culprits as ‘lazy, selfish and inconsiderate’.
WRAS founder Trevor Weeks MBE said: “The lake is the worst place I know for tackle incidents and is one of the most dangerous locations for water fowl.
“In the past 12 months we have responded to more than 25 incidents, of which the majority of them have been related to fishing line and tackle.
“There have also been numerous incidents relating to dogs attacking and injuring swans too.”
Walkers at the park called WRAS on Thursday (June 2) after seeing a swan with blood on its body and a fishing hook in its mouth.
Five rescuers in three ambulances were called to deal with the rescue and to ensure the capture was swift.
Kathy Martyn of Uckfield and Chris Riddington from Eastbourne led the rescue drawing the swan and three cygnets close to the back before catching them.
A large carp hook was embedded in the tongue of the parent swan, which had to be removed by at the charity’s medical centre. WRAS has released a video of the procedure.
Trevor said: “We hope that people are shocked by this footage and that it discourages irresponsible fishing not just at Ditchling Common but elsewhere in East Sussex too.
“These types of incidents are way more common than they should be. We know the swan has not flown in with the hook on as she has been present looking after the cygnets for several weeks.
“The amount of line and hooks in the water, caught in bushes and in trees is horrendous and not difficult to find. We have mention the problem several times when we have received calls from the council but no one seems to be interested in doing anything.
“If the pond is not going to be looked after or managed properly or fished responsibly then the fishing should be banned, which is a shame for those who fish responsibly.
“It is laziness, selfishness and inconsideration on behalf of irresponsible anglers that leads to this amount of line and hooks being discarded.
“This is the worse site I know for discarded line, hooks and waterfowl encountering problems.
“Something needs to be done to clean up the pond, make it safe for wildlife and for the site to be patrolled better ensuring that either no fishing or only safe angling takes place to avoid the suffering of our local wildlife.”
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