Skip to main content


Title: The Impact of Lost and Discarded Fishing Line and Tackle on Mute Swans
Author: C Perrins
Author: P Martin
Author: B Broughton
Author: Environment Agency
Document Type: Monograph
Annotation: Environment Agency Project ID:EAPRJOUT_1184, Representation ID: 370, Object ID: 2404
This report presents findings from a study to establish the extent and causes of the problem of tackle-related injuries to mute swans. The analyses are based on data collected during 1996 a 2000 by a number of swan rescue groups. Most data were collated by Peter Martin and Ellen Kershaw on behalf of the National Convention for the Welfare of Swans and Wildlife, while the RSPCA supplied other data from their extensive records. This project also examined fishing tackle retrieved from rescued birds and draws some conclusions about the causes of fishing tackle related incidents and the extent to which illegal lead continues to be used. Other sources of information have been used to determine changes in the mute swan population and the incidence of lead poisoning. There are significant uncertainties and assumptions in interpreting the available data. Nevertheless, the following broad conclusions are based on large samples and can be made with confidence: a a a a a a a the mute swan population nationally has increased significantly since 1987; at 29.7% of all reported incidents, fishing tackle related injuries are the biggest single cause of swan rescues; the biggest proportion of angling related rescues occur between July and September, coincident with the school holidays and a surge in swan numbers due to the appearance of young, inexperienced cygnets; the survival rate of rescued swans is very high, underlining the effectiveness of swan rescue groups; nationally, it is estimated that there are about 3,000 tackle related swan rescues per year, including those carried out by the RSPCA. The annual cost to the voluntary swan rescue groups (an estimated 1148 of the rescues), excluding labour is estimated to be A94,940. This figure rises to an estimated A202,863 excluding labour if data for RSPCA rescues is taken into account; experimental voluntary segregation of anglers and swan-feeding areas at problem sites has been shown to be effective in reducing tackle related injuries; analysis of tackle removed from swans suggests that the majority of the problems occur with tackle used by anglers of average or low expertise. Lead poisoning accounted for 3.6% of swan rescues over the period 1996-1999. In the national context lead poisoning in mute swans has declined since the restriction on lead weights was introduced in 1987. However, the data provide evidence of continued lead poisoning in some localised areas and further investigations to establish the source of the lead are needed. Analysis of fishing tackle retrieved from 847 rescued birds revealed 34 sets (4%) of tackle that included a total of 97 illegal lead weights. This represents 13.7% of the fishing weights retrieved. (This should not be interpreted as being representative of all fishing tackle in use, since the sample is heavily biased towards inexperienced anglers and problem sites). As a result of this project, a standard recording form has been developed and continues to be improved for more consistent recording of swan rescues. In addition, a computerised database of swan rescue incidents has now been established. R and D TECHNICAL REPORT W1-051/TR i CONTENTS Page EXECUTIVE SUMMARY i 1 1.1 Introduction Context 1 1 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 Methods Scope, quality and availability of the data Collection and analysis of tackle data-sets Collection of data on lead poisoning 4 4 4 5 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 3.10 Results The data and their limitations Cause of injuries Seasonal pattern of tackle injuries The fate of rescued birds Treatment of tackle injuries Frequency of tackle injuries The source of the tackle Lead poisoning Number of swans rescued The cost of swan rescues 6 6 6 7 8 9 9 10 13 15 16 4 4.1 4.2 4.3 Discussion Data collection Management options Lead poisoning 17 17 17 18 5 Conclusions and Forward Look 19 References 20 Glossary of acronyms 21 Acknowledgements 22 Appendix A. The numbers of swan rescue incidents and their causes 23 Appendix B. The frequencies of tackle-related rescues by time of year 29 Appendix C. The number of angling-related rescues by time of year and habitat 30 Appendix D. The fate of swans rescued because of tackle-related injuries 32 Appendix E. Treatment of tackle-injured birds at Hampton 34 Appendix F. Swan Rescue Report Form, Version 9, 2001 35 R and D TECHNICAL REPORT W1-051/TR ii 1
Publisher: Environment Agency
Subject Keywords: Mute swan; Fishing line; Fishing tackle; Swan rescue; Lead poisoning; Angling
Taxonomic Keywords: Cygnus olor
Extent: 40
Total file downloads: 4

Download PDF    Display PDF in separate tab