Fishing line can be a death trap for wildlife and it's something we've seen play out over and over again in the preserves but, after some intervention at Monee Reservoir, we're hopeful we've given one bird a chance at a full recovery.
A Canada goose had been seen with some fishing line wrapped around its leg and, on Monday morning, we observed it just a few feet in front us and far removed from all of the other geese. It would limp for a few feet, then pause to try to remove the line.
"You almost wonder if they're like, 'hey, can you do something for me?'" said interpretive naturalist Bob Bryerton.
Because it was just a few feet away and in front of the visitor center making an attempt to help it possible, Bryerton grabbed a net and some clippers and approached the bird. After a short wild goose chase, Bryerton was able to safely trap it with a net.
A closer examination showed that not only was fishing line wrapped around the goose's leg and cutting into it, but there also was a hook that had gone completely through the leg.
"What happens is the hook gets caught and then as they swim, the line will wrap around," he said. "If it's just the line, it's possible for them to pull out or slide out of it. But with hooks or weights, it'll get stuck."
After a few minutes of work, Bryerton was able to cut away the line and also remove the hook.
The goose then quickly bolted for the water and rejoined the rest of the geese.
"It's still not out of the woods, but it's the best thing we could do," Bryerton said. "It was the least stressful way to help the goose and at least now it has the line off its leg."
Without any help, the goose could have lost its leg or even worse, lost its life.
"It's a living creature and humans are responsible for that," Bryerton said. "You've got to do what you can do."
What you can do when you're out fishing in the preserves is to make sure to properly dispose of your fishing lines and hooks.
- Always cut fishing line into pieces less than 6 inches long.
- Dispose of it, along with hooks and tackle, in appropriate covered containers so it does not become a risk to wildlife.
- Support the use of biodegradable fishing line that does not have an indefinite life span in the environment.
The Forest Preserve has receptacles to dispose of fishing line at all of its main fishing sites, including at Monee Reservoir. Choosing to use them is truly a matter of life and death for the animals that call our forest preserves home. So please fish responsibly.
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