A SEA eagle chick has been saved from a “slow and horrible” death after it swallowed two fishing hooks.
The six week old male bird underwent an emergency operation after being rescued from Loch Arkaig, Lochaber by a wildlife officer.
It is now recovering at the Scottish SPCA’s rescue centre in Alloa.
It is thought the white-tailed sea eagle had eaten fish which still had hooks and lines embedded in it.
Wildlife officer Lewis Pate rescued the bird by boat from Fort William before driving it to a vet in Inverness.
He said, “The fishing line was wrapped so tightly around the sea eagle’s body that I almost didn’t spot it at first.
“Thankfully I was able to remove the external line but because he had also ingested hooks I had to remove him from his nest to get help.
“He would undoubtedly have died a very slow and horrible death otherwise.
“I am absolutely delighted he has been saved.”
Scottish SPCA Alloa’s centre manager Colin Seddon said: “The bird had been feeding on a fish which still had hooks in it.
“Our vet Romain Pizzi did a heroic job and managed to remove the hooks using an endoscope.
“Our aim will be to keep the chick in our care until he fledges at around 12 weeks old. We will then take him back to its nest area for release.”
Colin has also urged fishing enthusiasts to clear up after themselves following this incident.
He said, “Although the majority of fishing enthusiast are responsible and clear away their lines and tackle after use, sadly, there is a minority who do not and this causes suffering to many animals every year.
“We would urge all anglers to consider the welfare of wildlife and clear away any lines and tackle after use as this could save an animal’s life.”
White-tailed sea eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey, and adults can have wingspans of up to 2.5 metres (8ft).
Fewer than 40 breeding pairs exist in the UK.
Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed wild animal should call
the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.