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Discarded Fishing Line Tragically Harmful To Wildlife

Photo: Two distressed Cormorants, both with snagged fish hooks. Charlie Nugent photo

Fishing line discarded along waterways can harm animals, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials urge anglers to dispose of line properly.

Every year dozens of birds and small mammals in Colorado get tangled up in fishing line along rivers, creeks and reservoirs.

“Fishing line left on the bank is dangerous,” said Scott Gilmore, statewide angler education coordinator for Parks and Wildlife. “An animal can’t untangle itself from fishing line so it is often fatal.

Earlier this summer, a kingfisher–a bird that lives along riparian areas–was found hanging dead in a tree, hopelessly tangled in fishing line. During his career, Gilmore has seen lots of birds that have died in the same way. When a bird becomes tangled, it can’t fly, run or protect itself from predators.

“There’s no reason to toss line on the ground,” Gilmore said. “Just stuff it in your pocket and throw it away at home.”

Some birds use fishing line to build nests. The result is that chicks and young waterfowl end up tangled in the mess.

Fishing line also cuts into the tender legs and feet of birds, waterfowl and other wildlife. Those cuts then can become infected and result in an agonizing death for the animals. Pets can also get tangled in fishing line with a potential to cause injury.

Monofilament line is very strong and can remain hazardous for years. Unfortunately, line can be found along reservoirs and stream banks throughout the state.

Anglers who see line should pick it up. Also, tell youngsters and inexperienced anglers about the dangers.

“It’s easy to perform this small service for the environment and wildlife” Gilmore said. “Carry out your own line and pick up line and other trash you see in the places you fish.”

The birds shown with this article are at Lake Estes. The Cormorants shown here are clearly distressed as evident by their swinging about of their heads and repeated opening and closing of their beaks. The line has also become tangled in their wings.

Let’s all join in and protect our wildlife, it’s the right thing to do!

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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