Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Untangling the Dangers of Fishing Lines to Wildlife

An osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has been spotted near the Tigertail Beach Lagoon Observation Tower with a monofilament line around its neck and a tangle of fishing line trailing behind it as it flies. It is thought to be one of the mated ospreys at the Observation Tower at Tigertail Beach. It has also been spotted sitting on a branch, trying to peck the line away.

According to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s von Arx Wildlife Clinic, “If it can fly and/or fish” there is nothing the Conservancy can do to help the osprey until it is weak enough to be on the beach or hung up somewhere. FWC was also contacted to see if they have raptor trapping equipment.

There is a happy ending to this situation! According to Adam Dinuovo, biologist for Audubon, he received the great news from bird watchers at Tigertail that the osprey was able to peck the line off from its neck.

It is estimated that one million shorebirds die every year as a result of marine debris and over 300,000 of those deaths are said to be attributed to discarded fishing lines and hooks, according to Audubon.

A black skimmer (Rynchops niger) rescued in Sanibel was not so lucky. According to Audrey Albrecht of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), the bird was a banded chick at Nickerson Beach, Lido, New York, and this morning was discovered hanging from a power line by the bridge at Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva. The skimmer had been hanging overnight and its wounds were very severe. It passed away shortly after rescue.

Fishing line filaments, some with hooks of various sizes, are carelessly discarded along our beaches and waterways. They are the leading cause of wildlife entanglement. Lines get caught in branches and bushes, and birds get trapped in them. A bird caught in a fishing line will struggle to get free and frequently this tightens the line around its neck, wings or legs. Birds that ingest fishing line may eventually starve to death. Sometimes birds pick up fishing lines to build nests, resulting in young hatchlings becoming entangled as they get more active.

Fishing lines and hooks can blind animals, and if swallowed, can lacerate beaks and throats.

If you find injured or orphaned wildlife, contact the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida at 239-262-CARE (2273) from 8 AM to 8 PM, seven days a week.

How Can You Help Our Wildlife?

  • Cast away from birds and shoreline vegetation.
  • Use barbless fishing hooks, artificial lures and weighted fishing lines.
  • Do not leave fishing poles unattended with bait dangling from the hook.
  • Dispose of any unused or loose fishing line into a Monofilament Line
  • Recycling Bin often found at boat ramps, fishing piers or sites where fishing takes place.
  • If no recycling bins are available, place broken or used lines that have been cut into pieces in a lidded trash can so it does not blow away or become a risk to wildlife.


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