Last week we got a surprise phone call from Erick Greene, an expert in behavior ecology who teaches at the University of Montana. Erick asked us if we wanted to go rescue a gosling with fishing line stuck around its leg at McCormick Park. Bird Emergency Rescue Mission! We drove to McCormick Park and spotted the gosling’s family on the opposite bank of the pond. Erick arrived a few minutes later and explained the plan. As he finished, the gosling’s parents started to stare right at us! With us were Ann, Erick, Papa, Mama, Me, Lucy, Megen, Asher and two kayakers. Quickly, the family of geese jumped into the pond. The kayakers chased the geese halfway around the pond till they went ashore. Once the geese were on the trail, Papa ran over and using the net that Erick had given him, caught the gosling with the fishing line around its leg.
Fishing line can harm animals when it gets tangled around their legs or beaks or wings. Eventually the fishing line will tighten so when scientists come to take it off, it’s hard because as the animal grows the fishing line goes super deep and tough to take out. If scientists were not there the fishing line would tighten even more and eventually the leg would break and an animal with only one leg wouldn’t have as much chance of survival as an animal with two.
I love to flyfish and icefish. As a good fisherperson, I also need to clean up my line and the line I find by the river. There are a few ways you can stop fishing line from injuring/killing animals. One way is when you are pretending to fish with fishing line you find (like I do) is to make sure your knot is tight because the river will take the line off. In the river, the line will get caught on a branch and then an animal looking for food will get tangled up and die. Another is to pick up the line you find because when the river floods in flooding season the line will get swept away and the same consequence will happen.
This the end of the McCormick Park gosling’s story. Erick, who was on the other side of the pond, came over and took the gosling out of the net. Erick used tweezers to take the line off. It looked challenging because the line was extraordinarily tight around the leg. Erik told us that at least every year something gets tangled in the fishing line at McCormick Park. Now, a week later, the gosling is great and has no more fishing line around its leg.
I hope this story encourages you to pick up fishing line and inspire others to do the same.