Keeping wildlife safe – top tips for anglers

Where has this year gone!?!  The summer holidays are upon us already, which means more time for leisure activities and sport.

A popular activity in the summer months is angling, which unfortunately is causing one of the most serious problems affecting wildlife at the moment: fishing litter.

Dispose of fishing litter carefully

Fishing litter is responsible for the injury of thousands of wild animals every year.

Photograph by Insp Hickman @ RSPCA
The kinds of incidents I’ve seen include:

  • Fishing line that is wrapped round an animal, cutting off the blood supply to parts of the body.
  • Hooks embedded in the skin, causing wounds and infection.
  • Line, hooks and weights swallowed, causing choking, blockages internally and injury to the oesophagus and intestines.
  • Entanglement in line caught in trees, meaning the animal is trapped and could starve to death if not freed.

Between 2005 and 2011 we admitted over 800 wild birds to our wildlife centres with injuries caused by fishing litter.  64% of these were swans.

Tackling the problem – some top tips for anglers!

Most anglers are responsible people who care about wildlife and clean up after themselves, but we would like to see everyone making the effort to leave nothing behind after a day’s angling.

The RSPCA is doing its best to get to grips with the problem, but we also rely on responsible individuals to help keep their local stretch of river, canal or coastline litter-free.


If you’re out angling, here are some tips to help tackle the problem:

  • Please take your unwanted fishing line home and cut it into pieces before putting in the bin.
  • Please be aware of surrounding trees – discarded line caught in foliage can entangle wildlife.
  • Please 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.

Working in partnership

We’re delighted to have formed a new working partnership with the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and the National Swan Convention, which represents other swan rescuers.

Swan with fishing litter © RSPCA


Together we  hope to reduce the impact of lost and discarded fishing tackle which causes injuries to swans and other wildlife. We plan to share information, co-ordinate campaigns and work closely with local authorities to manage ‘hot spot’ fishing lakes where the problems are particularly bad.

Spread the word!

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Thank you!

- Nicola Cunningham

Scientific Information Officer (Wildlife Department)

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