Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fishing Line Can Be Dangerous -- For All Birds

(Photo Caption:  An adult Barred Owl, just minutes before being released back into the wild. The owl is adopting the defense posture by hunkering down on his perch and fluffing up his feathers to appear larger to predators.)

by Catherine Greenleaf

When people think of fishing line injuries to birds, they often think of water birds like loons, herons, and cormorants, because these birds hang out in or near the water. However, all wild birds are at risk when someone decides to leave fishing line behind. Monofilmament fishing line does not biodegrade for a long time (often it takes years) and birds can easily become entangled by fishing line that is left floating on the water, dropped along the shoreline, or caught in bushes.

The Barred Owl in the above photo was recently found trussed up in the bushes along the shoreline of a small lake in Hanover, completely entangled in fishing line. In fact, the fishing line was tied so tight around one wing, the bird had to be anesthesized by my veterinarian in order to remove all of it, which included a lead sinker and lure. I am extremely grateful to veterinarian Dr. Dan Kelly and his wife Jodi, at Stonecliff Animal Clinic in Lebanon. They rushed the owl right into the O.R. and did an incredible job of fixing him up. I am also indebted to their staff for their help and patience.

Luckily, the x-rays showed no fractures, and there were no wounds on the wing. The owl was fattened up on mice and released several days later.

Not all birds are this lucky, and many birds lose legs or wings when the fishing line slices into skin and bone (Sadly, any injury necessitating amputation instead becomes a case of euthanasia, since a bird cannot survive in the wild with missing legs or wings). In addition, they run the risk of dying from a bacterial infection when the fishing line opens an abrasion or wound on the skin. Please remember: Leave No Line Behind!

Copyright 2015