A WILDLIFE rehabilitation charity is appealing for anglers to take more care after seeing a sharp rise in swan casualties caused by discarded fishing tackle.

Dedicated volunteers and veterinary surgeons at the Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital, based at Brandsby, near York, have seen 27 swans injured so far this month as a result of dumped fishermen’s lines and hooks in the River Ouse.

They say a large percentage of the birds they care for – some 3,000 each year – are found suffering with fishing-related injuries, and the numbers are on the up.

Recurring problems have been found with swans on the River Ouse in York, at Norton, and on the Selby canal.

The co-founder of the charity, Dan Sidley, said: “We understand that amounts of hooks and line are lost accidentally, but it is extremely important for people using the waterways to understand that they alone are responsible for their litter.”

Charity workers were forced to launch their rescue boat for a third time in a week on the River Ouse on Friday when they were alerted to a severely injured nesting swan near to Naburn Lock.

The swan was found suffering with a triple-barbed fishing lure lodged in its neck, and line wrapped tightly around its wings and feet. It was treated on the banks of the River Ouse and was later returned to it’s waiting mate and eggs.

Workers from the hospital are treating nearly 30 swans at their base with a range of different injuries, including ones caused by power cable burns, oil pollution and air rifle pellets.

Mr Sidley said: “Responsible fishermen will lift their lines from waters when swans are passing through, and boat owners should not at any time discard any fuel pollution into the River Ouse – it’s common sense.

“These waters are there for us all to enjoy, for both people and for wildlife, hopefully for generations to come.” He said a shockingly high proportion of the injured swans brought in for treatment had been deliberately harmed.

Last month The Press reported how a swan was shot twice in “an act of incomprehensible cruelty”.

It was saved by Yorkshire Swan Rescue volunteers, after it was found “bloodied and in pain” and flapping frantically in the River Ouse near Cawood. The bird was taken to an animal hospital, where x-rays showed it had been shot twice in the head and face with an air rifle.