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This Robin Would Be Alive Right Now if the Fishing Line Was Properly Disposed Of

Photo for: This Robin Would Be Alive Right Now if the Fishing Line Was Properly Disposed Of

Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock

This photo is difficult to look at, but we hope that seeing it is enough to convince people to be more diligent when it comes to disposing of their fishing line.

The American robin at Isle a la Cache preserve in Romeoville met a premature death earlier this week when it became entangled in some fishing line and hanged itself from a tree right outside the museum.

District staff saw the robin struggling and tried to intervene.

Chris Gutmann, the facility supervisor at Isle a la Cache, said they tried to figure out a way to reach the bird, including using a pole saw, but the bird was too high up in the oak tree. 

Now, the lifeless bird dangles a short distance from tables where students on field trips eat their lunch.

Gutmann said District staff sees fishing line throughout the preserves, including bobbers and hooks, on a daily basis.

Sadly, we see the deadly consequences all too often in the preserves. 

For example, last year, a great egret suffered the same fate at Lake Renwick Preserve in Plainfield. 

District wildlife biologist Glen Buckner said he comes across multiple birds each year that have been killed by fishing line.

According to Buckner, people will sometimes cut their line if it's tangled or if they change lures, and then leave that cut line in the water or along the shore.

"They'll cut 4 or 5 feet off of it and sometimes a bird will get a little bit of fishing line on it, and then that fishing line gets tangled up with other fishing line and then you’ve got two or three lines on the birds," he said.

The size of a bird can play a role in the final outcome once a bird gets caught in line.

"If a little bird gets wrapped up with even a small amount of fishing line, it's more likely to be deadly," Buckner said. 

According to the Chicago Audubon, thousands of animals are killed each year after becoming entangled in man-made materials.

The group has tips for preventing these kinds of animal injuries and fatalities:

  • 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.
  • Volunteer your time to clean up fishing line debris at local ponds, lakes, or beaches.
  • 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 Isle a la Cache. Choosing to use them is truly a matter of life and death for the animals that call our forest preserves home.


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