The Buzz

This dead great blue heron Is hanging from a tree due to human carelessness

Dead great blue heron hanging by fishing line
(Photos by Chad Merda)

Unfortunately, this is becoming an annual tradition as winter transitions to spring, but it doesn't make it any less sad when we come across these scenes.

While venturing off trail on Sunday at Rock Run Rookery Preserve, something high up in a tree caught our attention. Upon closer inspection, we could see it was a dead great blue heron, hanging by its neck. Like many grim discoveries in the preserves before, it appears fishing line was the culprit.

In March 2018, a pelican was found tangled in fishing line at McKinley Woods-Kerry Sheridan Grove. It was rescued but later had to be euthanized because its injuries were too severe. Just a month later, an egret was found dead, tangled in fishing line, hanging from a tree at Lake Renwick. In May 2019, a robin became entangled in fishing line at Isle a la Cache Preserve and died. 

Once again, we have an important request for everyone: Please properly dispose of your fishing line.

Failing to do so will continue to be a death sentence for wildlife.

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 at Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Choosing to use them is truly a matter of life and death for the animals that call our forest preserves home.

The health and safety of wildlife in the preserves is an important issue and with spring quickly approaching when more people will be flocking to the local waterways, we urge everyone to act in a responsible manner and think about how your actions impact everyone, including wildlife.

Latest Buzz

Slow your roll: Turtles on the move for nesting season


Spring is a time when turtles are often on the move and at risk of being hit by cars. If you can safely move a turtle across a road, here's how to do it.

Read more

Nature curiosity: Why do birds sing in the morning?


Are the birds waking you up before dawn? There's a good reason for their morning concert. 

Read more