Grab another annoying plastic bag
Unfit to be tied.
Harmless in the beginning. Just fishing some peaceful stream or serene lake. (Relaxed so far?) A sloppy cast and there it goes. A tangled knot of monofilament fishing line. Snarling. Struggling. Fighting the tangle. Until surrender to the knife. Quick, cut line, re-tied and ready to fly. Cast aside that defeating knotted line. Wraps round the ankles one last time. Kicked aside. Rolled off by the wind.
A few more casts. Oh, darn. Caught on something. Jerking. Tugging. A bit of vehement verbalizing. Until surrender to the knife. Quick cut of that snagged line. Just a little loss: some monofilament line, a few fly feathers, and a hook.
A pleasant interlude. Peaceful. But time to shove stuff in the tackle box and head back to the real world. Got everything? Oh, darn. Left that limb line – that passive fishing line made to float in the current. Shoot. Just leave that. Someone else will be glad to find some fish. And the game warden will remove it sometime.
Good spot. Have to do this again sometime.
Now the danger begins, for the original inhabitants
After recreational visitors leave, it’s time for raptor’s grocery shopping: a mouse, small bird, a goofy fish just under the water.
A calculated swoop down talons extended towards startled prey.
Strike and lift to the air – if all goes as planned.
What a tangled web humans weave.
Just some plastic lines, but lethal in design.
Left behind monofilament fishing line kills.
As hawks and other raptors grab dinner on the ground, they can also grab up a tangle of leftover fishing line..The weightless stowaway not a problem if not eaten? Not a problem unless it wraps around a leg or wing or snags a tree branch. Large birds may hang helpless unable to escape. This Harris Hawk was lucky. Some kayakers stopped and managed to get it free. (From Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine website) Thanks to Guz Henandez and Heidi Kong for this rescue.
Left behind limb lines also kill.
A very inexpensive fishing technique, those easy to use limb lines/ set lines/ throw lines which float along in the current just under the surface. Legal in Texas for freshwater fishing of non-game fish like catfish, the lines can’t have more than 5 hooks and must be attached on one end to a tree or some “permanent fixture”. Be aware that these lines are considered private property and because of that, Game Wardens cannot remove them – even if abandoned. So? Unattended these lines just keep killing.
Read this account by Shannon Tompkin about a snagged owl:
“The barred owl looked dead.
“I used the boat’s trolling motor to ease close to the bedraggled ball of matted wet feathers hanging from a line attached to a limb of a cypress reaching over the edge of the timber-lined bayou, aiming to confirm what I knew. I’d seen it – or some equally tragic variation – too many times.
The owl had flown low along the edge of the bayou, in that space between overhanging limbs and the water’s surface and not seen or paid attention to the dangling length of line.
It had hit the line, jerking it taut until the rusty hook that had been dangling in the water buried into the wing muscle close to the bird’s body.
The hook-impaled owl had hanged there, part in the water and part out, hopelessly struggling to free itself. It had become another victim of a “limb line” abandoned by some irresponsible angler.
When I got perhaps 10 feet from the “dead” owl, the bird convulsed, weakly attempting to flap its free wing. It was still alive, barely.
I used a hand towel to cover the bird’s head in hopes of calming it, gingerly grabbed it by its legs while avoiding those curved talons, put it on the boat’s deck and used a pair of wirecutters to clip the hook’s barb.
The bird was too weak to fly. But when I put it on the bayou bank, it could stand and look at me. So I wished it luck, returned to the limb line and cut it.”
Tomkins broke the law by helping the owl, an endangered species. He cut someone else’s hook off a limb line – and he cut and removed the abandoned line. Those were private property. But the lines are a continual danger to birds, animals like otters, and boaters. Hopefully, the issue will be addressed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission this spring.
Meanwhile, grab one of those annoying plastic bags
and tie it to your belt loop the next time you head outdoors.
You immediately recycle those?
Well, just look around. There’s probably a few bags within walking range frantically waving to gain your attention…..Poor orphaned bags. Didn’t asked to be created …Tossed carelessly aside…Fated to become ever wandering ghosts…Phantoms of the landscape – Invisible to those who should care…Neglected…Reviled….(Oh? OK. I digress…)
When someone makes some snide “plastic bag” remark,
Retort you are using it to collect left over monofilament fishing lines.
Picking up after others to clean the environment and make it safer for the original inhabitants.
Hey, then hand them one, too!
Problem, not solved, but maybe solution begun?
Tread lightly, take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill only time.
More to explore:
- “Limb Lines are a Snag in the System” ( Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle) Sad tale about an otter here, too.
- “Quick Thinking Angler Rescues an Osprey” (Scotland. Christine Lavelle, The Free Library). Story about osprey tangled in fishing line. Saved.
- “Saumarez Park fishing ban reminder after bird’s death” ( BBC News) Cormorant gets tangled and dies.
- “Hook, Line, and Starvation” (The Tribune SanLuisObispo.com) Pelicans tangled/starving in Morros Bay. Rescues.
- “Inside the Conservancy Wildlife Clinic: Fishing lines and cool weather make for an interesting week” (Naples, Florida) Story about Great Egret tangled in fishing line. Thought dead, but alive and rescued.
- “EMS for injured wildlife” (Bay Nature) Article about WildRescue group. Fishing lines. Sea gull with can around neck.They saved the hawk shot by nail gun.
- Raptor Resource Project. Click to watch falcons, eagles, osprey, and owls in their nests.
- “Annual program to remove abandoned crab traps heals” (Shannon Tompkins) Abandoned crab traps in bays and along the shore harm birds, raccoons, turtles, and humans. Feb 18: help collect some!
Attempting to untangle some knots,
Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.