Hooked a bird? Don’t Cut the Line!

Sponsored by Friends of the Pelicans, Inc. Photos by Carol Cassels

Hooked a bird? Don’t Cut the Line!

Even if you take precautionary steps to avoid it, sometimes you might hook a bird by accident. That’s when it’s important to remember—don’t cut the line and let the bird fly away with it attached. This will lead to entanglement, resulting in death of that bird and possibly others as well. Instead, follow these simple steps to unhook the bird: Reel. Remove. Release.

1. Wear safety glasses and enlist a partner for help.

2. Reel the bird in slowly and lift it from the water using a hoop net. Even a large pelican weighs only 4-8 pounds

3. Grasp the bird by the head just behind the eyes and fold the wings against the body. For pelicans, hold the beak, keeping the mouth slightly open so it can breathe. Cover the bird’s head with a cloth to keep it calm.

4. Never pull the hook out but carefully push the end through the skin, cut off the barb and back the hook out using pliers or clippers. If the bird is entangled, remove all line.

5. Release the bird (if healthy) by placing it on the ground near the water and allowing it to take off.sara

6. If the bird has swallowed the hook or is severely injured, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator from the list at MyFWC.com/unhook.

How else can you help a seabird or wading bird?

1. Don’t feed the birds, which teaches them to approach where they are more likely to be hooked.

2. Dispose of filleted bones where birds can’t get them—in a trash can with lid or at home. Bones of a filleted fish will become lodged in or tear throats, stomachs and intestines leading to the death of that bird .

3. Cover bait buckets and take unused bait home.

4. Dispose of fishing line in a monofilament recycling bin or cut into small pieces and place in the trash.

5. Don’t leave your line unattended.

6. Cast carefully to avoid hooking a bird in flight or being snared on trees, bridge pilings etc.

7. Help others learn what to do when they accidentally hook a bird. It’s pretty easy, once you know how.

Sponsored by Friends of the Pelicans, Inc.  More detailed information can be found at facebook.com/friendsofthepelicans.