An experienced local angler has hit out at the "sheer carelessness" that caused the excruciating death of a heron from a local waterway. The heron inadvertently hung itself on a tree in Butlersbridge having become distressed after swallowing a lure and almost five metres of line.
The angler who found the bird asked not be named, but is calling on fellow fishing enthusiasts to ensure they don't leave tackle and other equipment behind.
The man was called to help retrieve the lifeless body of the heron from a neighbour's tree. The bird was rearing fledgling chicks in a nest close to the Annalee River flowing through Butlersbridge.
"It had swallowed the fishing line and tackle," the man told The Anglo-Celt. "There was about five-metres of line to it and it had obviously flown into a tree, where the line wrapped around its neck and it got hung on a branch. It must've been a terrible death."
The angler who fishes and regularly walks the banks of Annalee says he took great joy in seeing the herons nesting nearby. He suspects the dead heron was attempting to find food for its young when swallowing the lure and line, and that two chicks now left behind are being cared for by the remaining parent bird.
"I used to see it every morning on my walks, so it's very sad to see what's happened. What annoys me is the sheer carelessness. It's simply wrong what's happened. As a fisherman you want to see herons on the bank because it's a great sign that you have a thriving waterway. Those herons have been nesting there for years. It's just so bloody careless."
Birds such as the heron are protected, and are found in the same wetland habitats during the winter as in the breeding season.
Heather Bothwell of Birdwatch Ireland echoed the calls for more to be done to educate anglers of the dangers of leaving tackle and other equipment lying around banks, but says she isn't surprised to hear of such incidents.
"There are very few birds that aren't protected, so they are protected, totally," Ms Bothwell, who has in the past been sent photographs of other birds and wildlife in similar difficulties, from swans to bats, stated.
"This sort of issue has been going on back to the 1980s, and in effect it is down to inexperience a lot of the time, where anglers faced with a snag will leave the line behind. So the education has to be better. It is down to more experienced anglers to lead the way in that regard," she adds.