Fishing Line and Tackle Injuries

Hook Injury Photo by Jay Holcomb

The most common injuries seen at the Station related to pelicans and seabirds are caused by fishing line and tackle.  These injuries range from a simple hook in the pouch to multiple hooks with line attached and wrapped around the legs or wings to ingested hooks and line that have made their way into the lower intestines.  These injuries are directly related to improper disposal of fishing line and tackle, feeding the birds and leaving fishing poles unattended.

How can they be prevented?

1.        Always dispose of unwanted monofilament fishing line properly.  Use the monofilament recycling containers found at most marinas or take it home and put it in a sealed garbage bag.  Entanglement can cause the loss of a wing or leg.  The line being dragged by a bird as it flies can easily  get caught a branch or on a fence causing additional injuries as the bird struggles to get free or even death if it cannot free itself. A bird will starve to death in a few short days if it cannot get free.

2.       Don’t feed wildlife.  The diet of most seabirds consists of small fish.  Even a pelican’s diet consists of about 90% small bait fish.  Don’t let the big pouch fool you.  Feeding a pelican, the leftover carcass of medium to large fish can be a death sentence.  It can easily get caught in the esophagus being too large to swallow or to be thrown up. Exposed fish bones can cause internal injury, scratches and punctures which may lead to infection.  A wild bird that has been fed by humans thinks the bait on your line is intended for him. They will grab it and end up hooked or entangled.   Once pelicans become accustomed to being fed by humans they may begin to frequent fishing areas and marinas.  Some consider the pelicans a nuisance and, unfortunately, may cause them harm or injury. Not everyone is as nice as we are.

Be kind to wildlife – DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE. It is illegal and alters  their natural behavior.

Doing just a few simple things can make the world a safer place for wildlife and together we can make a difference to minimize our impacts to pelicans, seabirds and other native wildlife.