Birds hooked on discarded line

Photographer John van den Broeke captured this image of an osprey struggling with fishing line.
Photographer John van den Broeke captured this image of an osprey struggling with fishing line. Contributed

WITH summer on our doorstep and the weather inviting outdoor activities, more and more anglers will take to the shire's rivers and beaches to pursue their favourite pasttime.

This normally harmless activity, unless you're a fish, can turn deadly for innocent wildlife going about its business of hunting for dinner.

Tweed Osprey Survey Group observer Helen Manning said over the last few years she had observed an osprey nest located at the Kingscliff Volunteer Coast Rescue station near the entrance of Cudgen Creek.

Ms Manning reported two ospreys had to be euthanised over the last couple of years due to injuries caused by discarded fishing lines or hooks.

"The ospreys had to be euthanised because fishing line or hook injuries have become septic and would have caused lingering suffering had Seabird Rescue and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital not assisted," Ms Manning said.

Currumbin Wildlife Hospital's senior veterinary nurse Patricia Swift said people would be amazed how many animals were affected by fishing lines and hooks and were brought to the hospital with a variety of injuries.

"We see a range of birds such as cormorants, seagulls, pelicans and black swans with fishing hook injuries but also get bats caught in lines left in riverside trees.

"We tend to see a lot more during periods when people are busy with activities such as fishing but once a hook is left in the environment, the danger remains."

Ms Swift said some of the injuries were caused by fishermen who simply didn't care however most lines and hooks were left by people who didn't realise the damage their tackle could do.

Even bluetongue lizards, cats and dogs presented with hook injuries following their attempts to get an easy meal by taking the left-over bait from fishing gear left in people's garages.

Ms Swift said often injured animals died lonely, lingering deaths because they resided in areas where few people visited and they weren't found until it was too late.

Injury numbers fluctuated depending on the time of year, however, the hospital could receive up to five cases in a couple of days during peak times.

Anglers needed to be aware of the dangers their gear could pose to all wildlife and ensure they removed all their lines, hooks and tackle once they were done with their fishing.

Anyone who spots an injured bird or other animal should contact Australian Seabird Rescue on 0428 862 852 or the Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers on 02 6672 4789.

How can we stop fishing line being discarded? Leave your ideas below in the comment section.

Topics:  birds fishing line injured animals

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