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Firefighters help the RSPCA to rescue stricken goose on the canal in Ashton

The RSPCA has thanked firefighters who helped the charity to free a trapped goose as Storm Isha arrived in the UK.

The bird was spotted in difficulty on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Ashton-under-Lyne after becoming tangled up in thorns and discarded fishing line.

RSPCA animal rescue officer Lee Ferrans attended the scene just after 6pm on Sunday 21 January but couldn’t reach the goose who was on the opposite side of the canal with no access. With darkness falling and the water beginning to ice over he contacted Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for assistance.

Using a boat, its officers managed to free the bird and bring him to the bank where the fishing line - which was wrapped around the bird’s entire body and mouth - was cut off by Lee. 

“We’re really grateful to the crew from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for their assistance with this tricky job,” said Lee. “Conditions were deteriorating and the only way the goose could be reached was by boat. There was a considerable amount of fishing line and the risk of injury would have increased the longer he was left, so time was of the essence. 

“Once he was on the bank I checked him over and thankfully he had no visible injuries and he immediately walked off flapping his wings before jumping back into the canal.”

Incidents involving discarded fishing litter are commonplace and over 1,200 calls were received by the RSPCA across England and Wales in 2022. Many animals - mainly water birds - which fall victim to discarded equipment can be saved but they may require a lot of care, treatment and rehabilitation as a result. Others aren’t so fortunate and sometimes their injuries are too severe for them to survive.

Lee added: “The effects of discarded litter can be devastating for wildlife, especially when there is such a simple solution: clear up your litter - whether it’s fishing-related or general - and take it home with you.

The charity urges all anglers to follow the Angling Trust’s Take 5 campaign and make use of the recycling scheme to dispose of waste tackle and line. 

Best practice guidelines include:

● Take old fishing line and spools to recycling points in local tackle shops or fisheries. Your nearest recycling point can be found on the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS)website. Alternatively, old fishing line can be posted to the address on the ANLRS page.

● Be aware of surrounding trees – discarded line caught in foliage causes problems for wildlife.

● Don’t leave bait unattended – always remove it from the hook and put it in a safe place.

● Use a reusable bait container. Don’t take bait in tins.

● Dispose of any litter you see, even if it’s not your own.

The goose was released in situ under licence from Natural England. Without one it is illegal to return them to the wild as they are an invasive species.

This year the RSPCA celebrates its 200th birthday. To mark this special anniversary the animal welfare charity wants to inspire one million people to join their movement to improve animals' lives. To find out how you can join their million-strong movement for animals visit www.rspca.org.uk/200

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