Goin’ Fishin’? Don’t Give Me That Line!
We walk around the lake each and every day and recently, have seen several birds that have become entangled in fishing ling, a very troubling sight. These heartbreaking cases could easily be prevented.
Improperly discarded fishing line cripples and kills and wildlife. Nearly every day on our walks, one of us picks up carelessly discarded fishing line, hooks and sinkers. These lines, carelessly cut and tossed by fishermen, can become deadly for the animals that live or migrate at our lake, or any lake where people fish.
We noticed a female Canada goose two weeks ago with fishing line tangled around both ankles and have been very concerned for her welfare.
Efforts to capture her were difficult as she has a mate and twelve goslings. This week however, the mission was accomplished as the goslings have become more self sufficient and the mama had moved far enough away from the family that she could safelty be captured and untangled from the fishing line that bound her legs together.
CDOPW Manager Rick Spowart was helped by other volunteers who netted the bird, secured her wings and quickly cut off the fishing line from her leg. Her foot had become very swollen due to the constriction and they massaged the area to get the blood flowing back into her foot once again and Spowart thinks this bird will survive the incident and not loose her foot.
Birds that become entangled in fishing line can easily die or they may sever a limb in the effort to free themselves. Of those few that must sacrifice a limb for a chance of survival, many will eventually die later after the wound becomes infected. This is a totally unnecessary and wasteful tragedy that can be easily prevented.
How Fishing Line Hurts Birds
Monofilament fishing line is a strong material that does not degrade or decompose, so one tangle can stay in an area for months or years, threatening birds and other wildlife every day. Depending on the size or length of the line and how animals encounter it, fishing line can injure in many ways, such as:
Tangle Injuries: Birds that get tangled in fishing line will struggle which causes the line to tighten as they fight to free themselves. The line will then cut into legs, feet, necks, wings and any other body part that gets ensnared. When the line tightens enough without relief, limbs can be critically disabled, even amputated.
Movement Restriction: If the fishing line does not tighten enough to cause a serious injury to a bird, it can still restrict their movement by decreasing the range of motion of their legs or wings. This can make it harder to forage for food or escape from predators.
Starvation: When fishing line gets tangled around a bird’s bill, it can cause starvation as the bird is unable to forage effectively.
Nest Risks: Birds may be tempted to use fishing line in their nests, but doing so can threaten both parents and young hatchlings. Parents may get tangled as they shift around in the nest and as young birds grow, they can become tangled in loose pieces of line. Baby birds may also be bound together with their nest mates, a sure cause of death for all involved.
Hook Injuries: When discarded fishing line contains hooks, birds might see the shiny object as a tempting morsel, but their mouths and throats can be cut by the hook or the hook may become lodged in their mouth or throat. Hooks can also cut into birds feet or wings, causing painful injuries that can become infected.
Lead Poisoning: If fishing line is attached to lead sinkers, birds that ingest those sinkers are subject to the toxic effects of lead poisoning. This type of poisoning causes much suffering for affected birds.
We know that there are many fishermen out there who are responsible and care for and love the wildlife. We wholeheartedly thank all of them for taking their tangled or severed lines, hooks and sinkers home with them. Thanks to you, the animals won’t have to suffer or die needlessly. Please help by trying to educate other fishermen who might not realize the dangers of stray fishing supplies.