As a wildlife rescuer who specialises in catching ‘flight capable’ birds I am acutely aware of the risk posed by any length of fishing line that has been carelessly dropped on the ground. Discarded line is a primary cause of entanglement amongst foraging birds. Once wrapped around a foot or leg the line tightens, then it’s only a matter of time before it amputates the affected limb, leaving the bird maimed or causing death by infection. Last year on the Gold Coast I caught and disentangled more than 100 birds.
Photo: Rowley Goonan from Wild Bird Rescues Gold Coast with some of the kilometres of fishing line he collects from the Gold Coast foreshore every year.
For many years I’ve been picking up discarded fishing line from a narrow stretch of ground just above the rock wall at the Gold Coast Seaway. Three months ago I began recording the amount. To date, during my weekly collections over thirteen weeks, I’ve picked up 1664 meters of discarded fishing line along that 500 meters.
It means fishers have, on average, been dropping 128 meters of line, plus assorted hooks, swivels, sinkers, jigs, traces and lures, every week. This collection area has always been a major source of entanglement for foraging birds like gulls, native pigeons, ibis, scrub turkeys, magpies and mudlarks. I shudder to think how many birds would have become entangled if I hadn’t been cleaning up after the fishers who leave their rubbish behind and disposing of that line correctly.
Please note … if you come across a length of discarded fishing line be sure to wind it into a tight ball and tie it off before binning, otherwise it will entangle birds when it gets to the rubbish tip.
Photo: An ibis with a double entanglement of braid (non-stretch fishing line)
Wild Bird Rescues GOLD COAST