FURIOUS Lochmaben residents have called time on anglers leaving their paraphernalia at Mill Loch.
It comes following a litany of incidents which have highlighted the impact that dirty camping and littering is having on wildlife at the popular spot near Mossvale, the latest of which resulted in the death of a crow.
Friends Jane Cooper Purdie and David Allen attempted to save the bird, which became caught in fishing line, by taking it to the nearby South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital (SOSWH) at Barony College in Parkgate last month.
However, Jane said the pair were told it wouldn’t survive and had to be put down.
And she added that whilst there, veterinary nurses reported having treated “numerous geese and swans” from around the loch in recent months due to anglers dumping lines, nets and hooks on the loch’s banks.
“The Mill Loch is an area of conservation,” Jane said, “but there seems to be no one overseeing its protection. Fishing line is one of the main culprits for the danger to wildlife, hence the crow having to be put to sleep.”
Reacting to the incident, Lochmaben resident Shell Reynolds said those responsible “need educating on the country code”.
She added: “I’m more angry that our wildlife are dying because fisher people can’t be bothered to take their line home. We either need to charge in order to pay for the treatment of those animals, posters and harsh fines for littering.”
Meanwhile, Suzanne Storm shared shocking images of a swan from nearby Kirk Loch which was also admitted to the wildlife hospital. The photographs show a fishing hook lodged in the beak of the protected bird, which was saved thanks to the efforts of specialists at SOSWH.
Furthermore, Mel Cummings, also from the burgh, had to rush her puppy, Pluto, to the vets after it swallowed a fishing hook with the line still attached last month.
She recalled that her family endured “the longest 24 hours of our lives” after the young collie ingested the sharp piece of metal whilst being walked at Mill Loch.
Mel said following a “drawn out struggle” to remove the hook that he pulled through the ordeal but added it “could have been so much worse” and that the family “wouldn’t have to worry at all if the fishermen had just took their rubbish and hooks away with them.”
And it’s not just wildlife being put at risk; Polly Hamilton’s daughter became tangled in fishing wire near to where the swans usually rest on the loch’s shore.
She said: “I don’t have an issue with people fishing at the loch at all as long as they tidy up after themselves – that applies to everyone who has access to the loch though.”
Commenting, chair of Lochmaben Community Council Colin Davidson said: “We’re aware that from time to time these things crop up and in fact about six weeks ago one of the community council members flagged-up some of the issues.
“So we’re aware there are issues; during the first lockdown there was some reports about fishermen camping there but the difficulty of course is that it’s a site where fishermen do go and like everything else, the vast majority of them will be responsible but it’s always the few that cause the problems and I think it’s a delicate one to tackle because on the one hand we don’t want to stop visitors coming to Lochmaben, but obviously we want to try and make the less responsible ones behave more responsibly.”
Mr Davidson added the community council has ordered new signs to put up around the loch reminding anglers to take all equipment with them when they leave.