AN injured swan is battling for life after swallowing lead weights.

A moorhen also suffered pain and suffering from a fishing line wrapped tightly around a leg.

Such incidents of negligent cruelty have led an animal welfare charity to warn fishermen and women to take better care of their equipment.

The warning follows a diesel spill into the River Colne. Oil-covered swans were seen in the Colne at Riverside, East Hill and the Hythe in Colchester.

Last Friday, three swans were rescued and found to be caked in diesel.

After receiving tender-loving care, including a good wash, from the Wildlives rescue centre in Thorrington, two of the swans were released yesterday (wed) at Abberton Reservoir, just to the south of Colchester.

Centre boss Rosie Catford said: “The birds flew off strongly together and we believe they are a couple. They have been ringed by the British Ornithology Trust, so we will know it is them should they ever be found somewhere. They have been told not to go back to the Colne.”

“The other swan is still with us. It is poorly and cannot stand up.”

Rosie said of the swan: “He had a dislocated pelvis, which was put back. But during x-rays, the vet discovered he had lead fishing weights in his gizzard.”

“Lead fishing weights are illegal and certainly caused a lot of un-necessary suffering. The swan was in intensive care. Lead causes a slow, lingering and painful death.”

“If he had not been found, he would have died a slow, lingering death because somebody couldn’t be bothered to take their fishing tackle home.”

Rosie said a few weeks ago a moorhen was found with fishing line wrapped tightly around a leg.

“The leg was just hanging on. It had suffered pain and suffering because somebody discarded their fishing line.”

The Environment Agency was on standby at the weekend, in case of further diesel spillages at the Colne. They were unable to locate the source of the spillage and none have been reported since.

The RSCA and other wildlife groups who were also called in to help, feared other animals may also suffer, but fortunately it appears the worst is now over.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said the small amount of oil spilled and how it had been dispersed meant the agency was unable to undertake a clean-up operation and it should disperse and degrade naturally.

The agency added a build-up of pollutants in the surface water drainage system could have been flushed out by rain on New Year’s Day from the drains into the river.