Residents planning to illegally plunder the river in Spalding for their festive feasts are being warned to go to the supermarkets instead – or face prosecution.
Following incidents of illegal fishing and swans and ducks being stalked along the River Welland, police and Environment Agency enforcement offers are teaming up in the new year to protect the wildlife.
Nick Willey, the wildlife officer at Lincolnshire Police, says the remains of a swan were found last Christmas, but nobody was prosecuted in relation to it.
Wild unmarked mute swans belong to the Crown and killing them was once a treasonable offence, punishable by hanging.
Today, taking or killing a swan could amount to theft and injuring them could amount to criminal damage. Both of these offences committed against swans have been successfully prosecuted in recent years.
Mr Willey also said there is a national issue regarding ducks and fish and he is doing some work with the new Fisheries Enforcement officer from the Environment Agency, Rachel Woodcock, in the hope of conducting some operations around the county in the new year.
Spalding police are also planning to call on dog walkers to help officers patrol the river.
Insp Jim Tyner said: “Although we can’t use our PCSO resources for dedicated ‘duck patrols’, the local teams do spend a lot of time on foot patrol near the waterways and would deal with any suspicious activity as part of their core duties.
“We also we rely on members of the public reporting any suspicious activity to us as soon as they see it.
“The launch of Canines on Patrol (COPS) in the New Year, where dog walkers volunteer to report anything suspicious, will give us extra sets of eyes and ears out on the footpaths.
“Together with a number of planned operations in partnership with our wildlife officer and other agencies, we can continue to educate and enforce the message that the removal of wildlife from our rivers is totally unacceptable.”
Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement officers check rod licences throughout the fishing season.
All anglers using the rivers during the festive season need a valid Environment Agency rod licence which allows them to use up to two rods.
Lesley Robertson, environmental crime team leader, said: “We want people to know that we patrol the rivers all year round.
“Although there are less people fishing on them during the winter, they must all still have the correct licences.
“If you think you see somebody illegally fishing, you should call our incident hotline on 0800 807060.”
Rod licences run from April 1 to March 31 and fishing without one can lead to a substantial fine.
If you see an injured swan then contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
Residents are warned not to approach it as swans can attack, risking injury to yourself or further distress or injury to the bird.