The RSPCA is warning anglers to be careful with their litter this summer after a duck was rescued yesterday from the canal with fishing hooks caught in her beak and wings.

RSPCA officers were called after the female mallard was seen thrashing about in distress, with her head at an angle, in Apsley Lock, Evans Wharf, Apsley.

Passers-by spotted the bird with the large piece of fishing equipment caught in various parts of her body. One hook had become stuck in her beak, and another through her wing.

RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright, officers from Garston Fire and Rescue Service and passing members of the public all helped try and catch the duck so the hooks could be removed and she could be given treatment for her injuries.

Watford Observer:

Kate said: "This poor duck would have struggled to survive like that much longer.

"She could just about swim, but not eat, and her head was constantly being pulled to one side as she swam. She would have eventually starved to death without any help, and probably suffered a great deal along the way.

"Eventually she became exhausted and went under a culvert at the side of the canal on the far bank, where I had to almost lay on the towpath in order to reach under and grab her.

"We do tend to see an increase in animals injured by fishing litter during the summer holidays when inexperienced anglers are more likely to take advantage of the warmer weather and holiday time.

"Of course, most people who fish are responsible with their litter and take care to dispose of it properly. But it only takes one thoughtless person to carelessly toss aside a bit of line or float with horrific consequences.

"We urge anyone about to go out fishing to make sure they take those extra few minutes to dispose of their litter properly. They could be saving a life."

The mallard has been taken to a nearby wildlife hospital where she has been treated but is said to be making a good recovery. It is hoped she will eventually be well enough to be released back to the wild.