Mind Your Line, a collaborative effort among Sanibel-Captiva conservation organizations, is asking fishing enthusiasts to use smart practices to protect the islands’ brown pelicans.
The pelican is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty and included in the state’s Imperiled Species Management Plan, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported. Nonetheless, a leading cause of lethal injury in pelicans and other shorebirds is fishing hooks and monofilament entanglement.
The pandemic led to an increase in anglers on the water seeking outdoor, socially distanced recreation or fishing to feed their families in the face of economic hardship. As a result, many boat ramps and fishing piers have seen an uptick in the number of injured and entangled wildlife, particularly pelicans.
As a member of Mind Your Line, SCCF is working with partners to spread the word about proper fishing practices to reduce harmful impacts on birdlife. The Sanibel Causeway has been the site of a steady stream of cases because a group of pelicans, mostly juveniles, hang around the Punta Rassa docks and ramp. As boats return to the ramp and fish-cleaning station, the pelicans gather and beg for handouts. Many of the birds are suffering from embedded fishing hooks or monofilament entanglement. Others have torn pouches from trying to swallow bony fish carcasses.
Volunteers, county parks staff and good Samaritans have been able to corral and deliver them to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife for treatment, but often the injuries are too severe for survival.
For the proper ways to discard monofilament and fishing gear and how to unhook a bird, visit the Mind Your Line website at www.mindyourline.org.
TIPS FOR RESPONSIBLE FISHING:
- Do not feed fish scraps to the pelicans or discard carcasses in the water.
- If caught on a line, reel the bird in slowly to prevent further injury. Place a net under the pelican as soon as you are able to reduce stress and commotion, which can cause more injury.
- Remove the hook by cutting the barb and pushing it backwards to remove.
- Release the pelican if it is healthy. If it is not, contact CROW at 239-472-3644.