Help Prevent Entanglements Due to Fishing Lines in Wildlife

Posted May 8, 2020 by Vindi Sekhon

Every year, birds migrate remarkably long distances across the globe. Since 1993, people around the world have celebrated this journey in May through International Migratory Bird Day. Some 14 years later, in 2007, the Environment for the Americas took over this day and transformed it into a meaningful way to raise awareness of environmental conservation. As we celebrate this day, we must continue to minimize disruptions to our environment and help make bird migration as seamless as possible, while still taking time to enjoy the great outdoors.

Many Canadians from coast to coast are connecting with the outdoors during this uncertain time, especially as spring presents many opportunities for biking, hiking, walking, running, fishing and so much more. While spending time outdoors is a positive way to maintain a sense of normalcy, our impact on the environment has the potential to result in issues for our wildlife and already fragile eco-system.

Unfortunately, fishing equipment is one such item that has harmed local wildlife throughout the years. Though fishing is a significant way to relax and enjoy some downtime, it is important to be mindful of how discarded fishing lines, hooks, and nets have the potential to harm wildlife.

Problems with fishing line entanglement were common last summer at both Como Lake and Lafarge Lake. In October 2019, Wildlife Rescue Volunteers traveled six hours to Tucelnuit Lake in Oliver, BC to rescue an endangered American White Pelican who suffered from significant tissue damage to the left-wing including multiple punctures and a large tear in the skin above the elbow (patagium) due to fishing line entanglement. Examination and assessment with Wildlife Rescues veterinarians determined that this Pelican would likely require six to eight months of long-term care and be the first aquatic species to be winterized at Wildlife Rescue hospital. Over the last seven months, Wildlife Rescue Volunteers and staff have provided extensive physiotherapy, nutrition, wound management & with your help indoor and outdoor pool facilities to ensure Pelican safely returns to the wild in the coming weeks!

Wildlife caught in fishing lines tends to struggle to get out and this struggle can lead to feather damage since the lines are constrictive. When trapped in these lines, the animals cannot move or find food and leave them vulnerable to attack by predators. Worse still, ingesting these fishing materials can be deadly and cause internal bleeding and damage.

As we all enjoy the great outdoors during this time of year, the safety of our environment and wildlife should be top of mind. If you find a bird that is injured, here are some helpful tips on what to look for:

  • Is the bird injured with exposed bone or blood?
  • Is the bird naked (featherless)?
  • Was the bird attacked by a predator?
  • Is the bird covered in bugs or insects?
  • Does the bird look sleepy?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions please contact our Support Centre for assistance.

Help prevent fishing line entanglement in wildlife! 

Posted in Wildlife Stories
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