THE RSPCA has app- ealed to fishermen to keep hold of their old line following a spate of injuries to birds.

Swans, moorhens and great crested grebes have all been injured by discarded fishing equipment since last summer.

On Saturday, a cormorant was tangled at water on the River Windrush, in Ducklington, near Witney.

The bird needed to be treated at St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, near Aylesbury, after line caught around its neck and a hook injured its cheek.

Dennis Lovell, animal collection officer for the RSPCA, said: “Fishing line is a very big problem.

“Without even looking at the calendar most of us can tell you when the fishing season starts because we suddenly get a flurry of calls involving fishing line and swans.”

Mr Lovell was called to another case near Bicester last year where a moorhen’s foot was cut off by fishing line, and officers had dealt with a great crested grebe which was dragging the corpse of another bird by line after both were tangled.

He added: “We deal with an average of anything between five and 10 incidents per week in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire which involve fishing line.

“I just ask people to be really responsible with their fishing line.”

Animal welfare officer Andy Eddy dealt with the cormorant, a fish eating bird.

He said: “It was lucky we managed to catch this bird as it was still mobile.

“It should be okay and will be able to be released back into the wild, but the story could have had a much less happy ending.

“I urge anyone fishing or angling to take their old line and floats away with them and dispose of them properly.

“Fishing litter causes so many injuries to wildlife and birds that could be so easily avoided by people taking a bit more responsibility.”

Justin Bury, chairman of Newland Angling Club, said: “We do enthuse to our members not to leave litter because it’s not right.

“Around our lakes we have a lot of wildlife where they are fed through the winter by our anglers who will put some food down for them. They will do bad by one hand and good by the other.

“These things do happen, and too frequently. Litter is wrong anywhere, regardless of whether it’s line or ring pulls from beer cans.”