Written by Donna Handforth of Florida, USA
After getting out of my car at the local park where I walked my dogs daily, I noticed a seagull hovering in mid-air. It was odd. It wasn’t going anywhere. Curious, I walked closer. I was nearly directly under the bird before I understood what had happened.
Kite string was tangled between two trees 50 yards apart. The seagull in flight, unable to see the string just as I had been unable to see it, had flown into it, causing it to send the bird swinging around, which entangled the wing. It was high up, 20 feet, maybe more.
I looked around for a long branch with which to hook the string, found one about 6 feet long, pulled my station wagon up under the gull and climbed up onto the roof, but even standing on the roof with a branch, I still could not reach the string.
A man with whom I was acquainted happened by and I explained why I was standing on the roof of my car. I asked him if he could stop at the park’s maintenance building to see if he could get someone to come around with a cherry picker. Having few other options, I let my dogs out to run around and play while I waited.
A man with a cherry picker came, cut the string loose on one side and lowered the gull down to me. I wrapped my jacket around it and he then cut it loose from the other tree.
I took the gull to Tri State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Delaware. They found no broken bones, only bruising and swelling. Two weeks of cage rest and the gull was released.
But There’s More… You Can Do This Too!
After this experience with the seagull, Donna had similar encounters with crows and other animals tangled in fishing line and kite string. She soon began to see a pattern and decided to do something about it. Donna created a series of posters warning people about the need to properly discard their fishing line and 6 pack rings, and within a short time, things began to change.
“For over a year my mother and I had been doing daily ‘sweeps’ along the lake banks at the park, cleaning up discarded fishing line and 6 pack rings,” Donna explains. ”After hanging the posters, the decrease in the amount of discarded line was overwhelming. We were cleaning up one tenth of what we had been prior to hanging the posters.”
Donna has made these posters available on her website helpwildlife.com. The posters are free to download and use at your local parks. Why not bring some along next time you visit your local recreation area? You just might save a life.