ANGLERS have hit back at claims that a swan was poisoned by lead fishing weights.
The RSPCA is nursing a poisoned swan back to health after it was taken ill at the RSPB nature reserve in Llandudno Junction.
The sick bird was spotted by a member of the public last week and reported to a member of RSPB staff who then monitored it until the RSPCA arrived.
The Weekly News reported RSPCA inspector Rachael Davies as saying: “Elevated lead levels are regularly found in swans due to ingestion of lead fishing weights or lead shot.
“However, some lead weights still persist in the environment and are often ingested by swans along with the grit they need to grind down their food in the gizzard.”
The story angered keen angler Keith Williams, from Llanddulas.
He said: “Lead fishing weights were banned in 1982, and I’m extremely angry that the RSPCA is blaming anglers for the poisoning of this swan.
“You can’t buy them anywhere, they are not used. It could well have been from lead shot, or fuel washed into the river from the roadside.
“Many anglers feel the RSPCA is trying to discredit our sport.”
Andrew Kelly, RSPCA head of wildlife, admits the poisoning could have come from lead dust shot, and not lead fishing weights.
He commented: “The swan was examined by a veterinary surgeon at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre.
“Blood tests revealed elevated levels of lead and the bird received treatment for five days. The swan is now making good progress and is still in the care of the RSPCA.
“Although many lead weights used in fishing are now no longer permitted, lead dust shot are still legal and are toxic to birds if ingested.
“In 2010, of 326 swans tested for lead levels at Stapeley Grange, 59% were above the recommended level.
“Whilst recognising the majority of anglers act responsibly, the RSPCA urges all people who engage in fishing to carefully dispose of fishing litter safely at home.”