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Hooked a Bird? Don’t Cut the Line!

Every angler knows the thrill of a catch, but what happens when that catch isn’t a fish, but a bird? Accidents happen, and occasionally a hook finds its way into the feathers of a passing seabird. However, the response to such a situation can mean the difference between life and death for our avian companions.

The first rule of thumb: never cut the line. It’s tempting to sever the connection and let the bird fly off, but this can lead to entanglement and even death. Instead, follow these simple steps: Reel. Remove. Release.

Safety first: wear protective gear like safety glasses and enlist a partner if possible. Slowly reel the bird in, using a hoop net to lift it from the water gently. Handle the bird with care, grasping it behind the head and folding the wings against the body. For certain species like pelicans, hold the beak with the mouth slightly open to ensure breathing, covering the head with a cloth to keep it calm.

Once secure, remove the barb and hook with pliers or clippers. If the bird is entangled, remove all line carefully. If the bird appears healthy, release it by placing it on the ground near the water, allowing it to take flight once more.

However, if the bird has swallowed the hook or is severely injured, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Contact a local seabird rehabilitator for assistance. You can find one easily using the locator app here:

Prevention is key to minimizing these incidents. Avoid feeding seabirds, as this encourages them to approach areas where they might interfere with fishing. Dispose of fish bones properly, ensuring they’re out of reach of hungry birds. Cover bait buckets and dispose of unused bait responsibly.

Properly dispose of fishing line in designated recycling bins or cut it into small pieces before disposing of it in the trash. Never leave your line unattended, and be mindful of your surroundings when casting to avoid snags on trees, power lines, or other obstacles.

Hooked a Bird? Don’t Cut the Line!

Lastly, share your knowledge. Educate fellow anglers about what to do if they accidentally hook a bird. With awareness and responsible action, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our feathered friends while enjoying the sport we love.

Check out a tutorial video demonstrating safe techniques for handling and releasing hooked birds on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website:

2024-04-23T11:41:03-04:00May 2, 2024|Fishing, Wildlife|

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