Anglers have come under fire after a distressed herring gull was hooked by three discarded fishing barbs.
Hooks, weights and lines are thought to kill thousands of wild animals across Britain every year.
The animal welfare charity was contacted after a gull was found entangled in barbs attached to a lure disguised as a fish.
RSPCA inspector Gemma Cooper said it was “the single most distressed bird” she had dealt with in nine years on the frontline.
Other birds were found to be pecking at the struggling gull when the RSPCA arrived at the scene in King Edwards Road, Swansea.
Gemma said: “I am so angry about the needless suffering this poor gull has endured because someone couldn’t be bothered to discard their litter appropriately.
“This poor gull probably thought he was in for a delicious snack – with the discarded hard body lure disguised as a fish.
“Instead, he ended up badly entangled and in excruciating pain.”
Gemma added: “Struggling to get free only made the gull’s injuries worse.
“One barb pierced his beak, meaning he was unable to open his mouth, while another tied his feet meaning he was unable to move properly.
“When I arrived, two magpies were pecking at the helpless gull. It was a shocking sight.”
RSPCA Cymru transferred the gull to Gower Bird Hospital, which removed the barbs and administered pain relief and antibiotics.
It is not yet known if the gull will survive its injuries.
The RSPCA is urging anglers to follow the Angling Trust’s “Take 5” campaign to dispose of waste tackle.
This asks anglers to take five items of litter home or take five minutes to remove any litter after fishing.
If every angler in Britain supported the campaign just once a year, it’s estimated that anglers alone would be responsible for removing 15m items of litter from the environment .
Gemma added: “Our advice is simple. Please take unwanted fishing line home, don’t leave baited tackle unattended, be aware of litter caught in foliage and use a bait box.
“Disposing safely of unwanted fishing litter helps save the lives of wild animals. We know most anglers are responsible and do this – but sadly that isn’t always the case.”