It can happen and you need to know what to do if it does!
Hooking a bird is always a horrible turn of events when out fishing. What’s even worse is that we have not been dealing with it the proper way. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been grateful enough to give us ways to help save these birds from further harm.
How can we keep this from happening in the first place?
- Don’t feed the birds, especially water birds. It causes them to congregate in areas where they are more likely to get hooked or tangled. Feeding pelicans is illegal (F.A.C. 68A-4.001).
- Discard fish carcasses in lidded trash cans. Birds will feed these dead fish, which can lead to injury or death. These fish are usually bigger than the bait fish that birds normally eat, and the larger bones and spines can puncture the bird’s throat or digestive tract. Birds attracted by dead fish may gather in areas where they are more likely to become entangled in fishing line.
- Cast away from birds and shoreline vegetation.
- Collect and store loose line until it can be properly.
- Keep your bait buckets covered.
- Take unused bait home.
- Keep other anglers informed on how to deal with an ensnared bird.
First things first:
“The first thing to know is don’t cut the line,” said Kevin Oxenrider, a biologist with the FWC. “Birds that fly away with hook and line attached are at risk of getting entangled in trees and dying. And that line is left to possibly snare other wildlife”
You need to make sure you’re not jerking the line around, or trying to shake the creature loose. More than anything this will hurt the bird, sustaining even more damage than it had before. Once you’ve reeled in the bird, slowly and evenly, make sure to use a net to bring it in, minimizing any damage to the bird, yourself, or any of your equipment. With the bird in the net, you will be more able to remove the hook and line from the bird and release it safely.
You can see a more detailed explanation in this video here: