Don't fish for fowl, clean up fishing line on Earth Day

Don't fish for fowl, clean up fishing line on Earth Day

"This gull was horribly tangled in a crab trap and destined to die. WildRescue's capture team rescued the gull and he was sent to aquatic bird specialists in the Bay Area" - Wild Rescue Youtube caption Note: Video contains no sound

With Earth Day just over a week away, WildRescue is urging you to participate in their Worldwide Fishing Line Cleanup event on April 23 -- no matter where you are in the world, “any fishable water will have fishing line around it, anywhere,” said Rebecca Dmytryk, director of WildRescue. WildRescue is a nonprofit group that acts as paramedics for injured wildlife. They operate out of three California locations: Los Angeles, Monterey and San Francisco.

Don't fish for fowl, clean up fishing line on Earth Day
This pelican's leg was tangled in fishing line, probably for a day or before being rescued by Wild Rescue co-director Duane Titus

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Don't fish for fowl, clean up fishing line on Earth Day
Wild Rescue volunteer helps untangle bird

Pledging to pick up fishing line on Earth Day won’t just make your creek, river, lake, jetty, reservoir, ocean, or pier look better, it could also save the life of a wild animal. Although WildRescue’s volunteers try, they don’t always get there in time to save the animal. There was the tragic case of the raven that tangled its leg in fishing line, on a limb of a cypress tree in Santa Cruz. For three days, the raven was hanging there helpless. Finally somebody called the WildRescue hotline, 866-WILD-911. Such an easy number to remember, but for the raven, help came too late. By the time the dedicated volunteers came, they saw the raven’s lifeless body dangling from its leg in the tree. The only task left was to bring the corpse down.

Sometimes help does come in time, as it did for an unlucky gull that was horribly tangled in a crab trap. Were it not for WildRescue’s efforts, the gull would have died there. Fortunately, they reached it in time. They carefully cut the fishing line away from the gull, then transported it to aquatic bird specialists in the Bay Area.

According to Dmytryk, about half of all the calls they get involve wildlife entanglements. She expects to get a lot of calls to their 24/7 hotline, 866-WILD-911, on Earth Day because people will find animals tangled in fishing line while they’re cleaning it up.

WildRescue has already received pledges from Wales and Australia rescue groups. The Wales rescue group reports that 40% of their rescues involve fishing line tackle entanglement, and in the UK that number is as high as 75%. Dymytryk adds “People don't realize that this is a problem in cities as well, in man-made reservoirs and ponds.”

Participating is easy, simply pick a location near you to canvass on the 23rd, then email [email protected] and they’ll add your location to their global map. On the 23rd, simply collect the fishing line and after you’ve finished, email a picture of what you’ve collected. WildRescue will then add your picture to their map. This doesn’t have to be an all-day event either, simply committing to 15 minutes will help. Individuals and groups are both encouraged to participate.

No special equipment is needed, simply some heavy duty gloves, scissors, or a knife, and a receptacle to collect the line are needed. As far as disposal goes, you can either recycle the fishing line, or cut it into one foot or smaller stands before throwing it away. If you fish, or know someone who does, please remember to be responsible. Pick up your tangled fishing line, before it becomes a deadly weapon.

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