Opinion Former Article

RSPCA: Owl rescued after being tangled in fishing line and dangled from a tree

Don’t leave litter, warns RSPCA

An owl was rescued by the RSPCA after it got tangled in fishing line and was left hanging precariously from a tree.

The male tawny owl was spotted on an island in the middle of a private fishing lake in Pebmarsh, Essex by a passer-by walking his dog around the edge. It is believed he had probably been dangling from the line by the tip of his wing overnight and most of the day.

The RSPCA were called and three inspectors paddled a boat to get to the island to cut the bird free from the line and detangle him. He was taken to a wildlife centre for a check-up and later released back to the wild.

Inspector Rosie Russon said the owl was very difficult to see as he was camouflaged and ‘playing dead’ – hanging his head and keeping very still.

She said: “This was a very lucky owl indeed. How the dog-walker spotted him out there, I really don’t know.

“There’s no doubt he would have died if he had not been seen, probably a slow, lingering death from starvation. He could not have freed himself from that tangle.

“The fact that he ‘played dead’ saved his life too. If he had flapped to free himself he would have broken bones.

“There was a happy ending this time – but there often isn’t with cases of wildlife and fishing litter which can be very damaging to wildlife.

“It is so easy to dispose of rubbish properly and we urge people to take greater care – it could save a life.”

Notes to editors

— Images and interviews are available on request

— The RSPCA is working with the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and other swan rescue organisations through the National Swan Convention to reduce the impact of lost and discarded fishing tackle on British wildlife.

— Concerns include that line can wrap round an animal and cut the blood supply to parts of its body, while hooks, line and weights can be swallowed and cause internal blockages or injury.

— We ask that people take unwanted fishing line home and cut it into small pieces before putting it in the bin. Hooks should be wrapped in newspaper before being put in the bin.

— Please be aware of surrounding trees and avoid fishing where they may snag lines – discarded line caught up in foliage causes problems for wildlife.

— Please don’t leave baited tackle unattended – always remove the bait from the hook and place the tackle in a safe place.

— Please use a bait box so that there is no chance of leaving an empty bait tin behind by mistake.


RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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