Discarded Fishing Line and Hooks: Bad News for Wildlife

Many of you that have visited a stream, bay, ocean, or other
body of water have at some point probably seen a tangle of fishing line on the
shore or in the water, perhaps even with a hook still attached. 

Unfortunately, tons of this fishing debris are discarded
into the water each year, and as the line can take over 500 years to degrade,
those of us working with wildlife see its disastrous effects on water birds and
animals far too often.

Sometimes, through the work of our amazing wildlife
rehabilitators, the situation has a positive outcome.  Take, for example, the case of a tern brought
to one of our rehabbers by a kind family. 
He had been found hanging off their pier, entangled in monofilament
line.  He suffered from severe tissue
damage to his wing and had to be force fed for the first four days in the rehabber’s
care.  Luckily, he began to recognize the
fish pieces she offered as a food source and was soon flapping his wings in
excitement when knew food was coming and loudly protesting anytime he felt
there was a delay in his meals.  After
weeks of recovery, he finally fully regained his spunky personality and was
ready to be released back into the wild. 

While the rehabilitator got to watch the tern playfully splash
about before doing several flights back and forth across the surface of the
water and finally lift off and head out to the bay, these situations don’t
always end so happily. 

Thousands of animals die each year after becoming entangled in
fishing line or stuck with fishing hooks. 
In fact, the same rehabilitator who helped the tern currently has a Canada
goose that had fishing line around both ankles and femur so deeply embedded
that it had to be surgically removed.  He
is still struggling with the damage it caused and it’s too soon to tell if
he’ll win the fight.

If you’re interested in helping keep animals safe from discarded
fishing gear, please always stop and pick up any line or hooks that you find in
the environment.  Even better, if you or
a local civic group you are involved with are willing and able to build containers
that can be placed at popular fishing spots in your area to collect line and
other waste, get in touch and we’ll send you the how-to details.