Please Fish Responsibly: Wildlife Will Thank You!

This owl was treated for wing injuries due to being caught in a tree hanging from an irresponsibly disposed of fishing line.

Every year the Wildlife Medical Clinic receives several patients suffering because of fishing gear that has been left behind, like this barred owl who was found badly tangled and hanging by one wing from fishing line stuck in a tree.  The kind people who found this bird were able to bring him to the clinic for treatment, where he was successfully treated.  However, many animals that are injured by fishing gear are not able to be saved despite the best efforts of veterinarians and volunteers.  

Please properly dispose of line and gear when fishing. Most of the time when I have seen animals tangled in fishing line, they end up dying and losing limbs — this barred owl was definitely a lucky bird!  Please do your best to retrieve any length of line you might find, whether they were from you or not.  Special receptacles for recycling monofilament line are the best place for it, but anything is better than leaving it in nature.  Try to leave our waterways cleaner than you found them!
Hooks that are attached to the line left behind can cause puncture wounds that lead to infections in all kinds of wildlife including but not limited to owls, water birds, songbirds, turtles, mink, raccoons, etc. along with making them very hard to treat.  Defensive wild animals with fishing hooks poking out of them are very difficult to handle, such as this osprey that is still being treated in the clinic after being found with a hook embedded in its leg!
Further, lead sinkers are often eaten by water birds leading to deadly lead poisoning. When they eat invertebrates and plant matter from the bottom of ponds and lakes, they can easily pick up pieces of fishing tackle as well.  If there are still lures on pieces of fishing gear left behind, fish-eating birds and mammals will often try to eat them.  Remember: if you can use it to fool fish into biting, other wildlife can be convinced too.  If possible, use lead-free tackle or at the very least try to recover all that you use.  
The wildlife thanks you for fishing responsibly!
-Sophie Phillips, 3rd Year veterinary student and clinic team leader