THIS is the moment when an owl that nearly died after it became tangled in fishing wire was released back into the wild.

And the touching release was accompanied by an RSPCA warning about the dangers of equipment discarded by anglers.

The tawny owl was discovered on the roof of a shed at the rear of a property under development on Church Lane, Great Mitton , in November.

Lancashire RSPCA Animal Collection Officer John Kerrigan freed the bird, which was unable to move and had a badly bruised wing, and it was taken to a vet in Clayton-le-Moors.

The animal has since been cared for at the RSPCA rescue centre in Preston where it has been fed and watered until it was back to full health.

RSPCA press officer Kevin Hegarty said: "We didn't give the owl a name or tame it in any way as it is a wild bird. It is very unusual to find an owl caught up like this.

"It is usually water birds, particularly ducks and swans."

He urged people to be careful when disposing of fishing litter. "The RSPCA are called to help more than 2000 animals a year affected by fishing litter. The message is simply to bear in mind that as well as a pollution problem, fishing litter may lead to the serious injury or death of animals, not just birds. We ask anglers to dispose of fishing line by cutting it into short lengths."

Animal officers do not know the age of the bird or whether it is male or female.

The tawny owl is the most common owl in England, Scotland and Wales and there are currently around 50,000 breeding pairs. They live in holes in trees and rocks and are usually found in woodland areas. They can also be found in chimneys and parts of old buildings where they will build their nests, feeding on small rodents and mammals.