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Pelicans treated for fishing gear-related injuries over holiday weekend

June 1, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Over the Memorial Day weekend, four different brown pelicans were admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife for injuries related to fishing gear.

The first was admitted on the evening of May 25 after being rescued near Blind Pass. It had two hooks embedded in its body, one in its beak and one in its right shoulder. The pelican also had monofilament line wrapped around its beak and small puncture wounds on its feet, likely caused by more fishing hooks. The barbs of the hooks were cut using wire cutters and the hook and line was removed.

Three more brown pelicans were admitted on May 28. One was rescued at the Sanibel Lighthouse fishing pier, while the exact location on Sanibel where the other two were rescued was not specified.

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Four different brown pelicans were admitted to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel over the holiday weekend for injuries related to fishing gear.

One had just one hook embedded in its left wing, a wound on its neck and puncture wounds in its pouch. The hook was removed and the neck wound was debrided, or cleaned surgically.

The second arrived with two hooks embedded in its left wing, one small and one large. As part of the intake exam, radiographs were taken to check for any hooks that may been swallowed. The radiographs revealed two more hooks in its GI tract. Veterinary staff placed the pelican under anesthesia and were able to successfully remove all hooks from its body.

The pelican rescued from the fishing pier was wrapped in monofilament fishing line and had a total of four hooks. Two were stuck in its mouth, while the other two were embedded in its right wing. The barbs were cut with wire cutters to remove the hooks.

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For all four patients, once the hooks were removed, the wounds were bandaged. They were provided pain medication and antibiotics to help fight or prevent any infections. All are expected to make a full recovery and be released.

These types of injuries are a common reason for admission to the CROW Clinic for brown pelicans, herons and turtles, according to officials. When not disposed of properly, fishing tackle - monofilament fishing line, hooks and sinkers - can cause harm to wildlife.

CROW offered some ways to help prevent such injuries:

- Do not feed pelicans or other birds while fishing. It teaches them to associate people with a free meal and may go after baited hooks.

- Never discard old fishing line or hooks in the water. Clear Your Gear has installed receptacles at many popular fishing spots on Sanibel for disposing of unwanted tackle.

- When kayaking or walking the beach and you notice line or lures, collect them and dispose of them properly. Monofilament can persist in the environment for 600 years.



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