THERE are fears that diesel from a sunken barge could lead to the death of swans that make the Leeds Liverpool canal their home.

The barge recently sunk on the canal, leaking its fuel. The diesel is believed to have spread from Skipton town centre to the Five Rise Locks in Bingley.

People who live near the canal have been asked to report any birds they see that have been contaminated by the fuel.

The Yorkshire Swan and Wildlife Rescue Hospital this afternoon posted an appeal on its page, saying: "We are extremely concerned after a barge was reported to have recently sunk on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, leaking a large amount of diesel into the waters where many pairs of swans and other wildlife call home.

"The affected stretch of Canal our dedicated volunteers have identified currently runs from Skipton town centre, North Yorkshire, right through to the Five Rise Locks at Bingley, West Yorkshire.

"Many pairs of swans reside along this stretch and given the time of year, a number have already begun the important nesting process complete with eggs, as pictured. The thick diesel slick below was pictured by our volunteers earlier today at Kildwick.

"If anybody sees an oil contaminated bird, please contact us - the pollution strips feathers of their waterproof qualities, can damage internal organs, cause respiratory distress and the animal will likely die without assistance. Please do not attempt rescue or treatment yourself - these birds will require specialist, experienced care and treatment.

"Please call us on 07763424892 with any concerns. Our volunteers are always available to respond, provide advice and or monitor a situation if necessary.

"With thanks to everyone who have so far contacted us out of concern for their local birds. We continue to monitor the situation closely."