Bird rescue groups seeing rise in avians injured by discarded fishing gear

Bird rescue groups are seeing a rise in birds getting injured by discarded fishing gear.

Many birds end up badly wounded and in some cases have to be put down.

Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust is one of those groups, and is often caring for birds tangled in fishing lines.

Co-founder Craig Shepherd said it's happening far too often.

"It can be distressing when we've had to euthanise a bird that we've had in care for some time," Shepherd said.

Like most other rescue centres in New Zealand, the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust often sees cases rise in summer which is when most Kiwis are water-bound.

A recent case included caring for a duck called Nemo, who had a fishing line stuck in his stomach.

But Shepherd said not every bird has been as lucky as Nemo in the past.

"Some will starve to death with a fishing hook down their throat, they can die through the infection, it's not a lovely way to go," he said.

The SPCA told Newshub it's not just a problem in Wellington either, with rescue centres all over the country seeing similar cases.

"This is a huge issue for seabirds in New Zealand, but it can also impact sea mammals and companion animals," said SPCA spokesperson Alison Vaughan.

It's prompted a desperate plea to anglers and those who will be heading out fishing anytime soon.

Vaughan said people should be responsible when out recreational fishing, by making sure their gear is well maintained and nothing is left behind.

Meanwhile Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust is urging Kiwis to clean up their act as the consequences could be harmful or even deadly to animals.