The Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Manatee County Audubon Societies worked with videographer Dee Fairbanks Simpson to produce a short documentary describing the danger of fishing gear to birds, especially pelicans, and how fishermen can safely release entangled birds.
Fishing gear entanglement has been identified as the main cause of death and injury for Brown Pelicans in Florida by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Audubon Florida.
This documentary uses puppets, actors, interviews, and live-filmed releases to demonstrate the problem, show how to avoid catching a bird in fishing gear, how to carefully reel it in, and how to cut a barb off a hook or the line wrapped around a wing or foot.
The video is presented in two lengths, a twenty-one-minute length which explains the problem for pelicans that fishing line and hooks present, and a shorter 5-minute version which delineates how anyone can safely release a bird without causing additional damage to it.
Fishing is a great activity for fishermen of all ages, and part of fishing is taking responsibility for managing the fishing line and releasing non-target animals caught by accident. Fishermen carefully release fish that are designated catch-and-release; if a person accidentally snares a bird, they should release it so that it can live wild and free.
The steps for safely releasing an accidentally hooked bird are simple:
- Enlist another person to help you hold the bird while you unhook or disentangle it.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Secure the head firmly, fold the wings against the bird’s body gently, and hold the feet.
- Gently covering the bird’s eye with a towel or cloth will help calm the bird, making it easier to remove the hook or line.
- Use a wire clipper to cut the barb, and back the hook out of the bird’s flesh. Cut and remove any line.
- Check the wings, legs, and body for additional hooks or line, as many birds have been entangled before.
- Point the bird’s head towards the water and step back as you release the bird.
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