Waterbird Mortalities found due to Fishing Lines

Contact(s): George Garnett, USFS


(photo credit: Valerie Horncastle, District Wildlife Biologist, USFS)


The USDA Forest Service encourages all fishermen to dispose of old fishing lines and hooks and place them into secure receptacles. Many waterbirds have been found fatally wounded from discarded fishing gear or, have been found hooked alive onto an end of a fisherman’s line.

A double crested cormorant was recently found dead hanging from a tree where it was entangled onto spent fishing line near Greer, Arizona. This incident highlights one of the many dangers posed to wildlife by carelessly discarded netting, fishing line, hooks and other debris. The reservoirs around Greer are key nesting areas for several species of birds, including Bald Eagles, ospreys, cormorants, and Great Blue Herons.

Bundles of line fishing line left on the shore can entangle cormorants, herons, ducks and other birds. Some birds will even use fishing line as nesting material which can eventually ensnare them or their young. Birds can also become injured after nibbling on bait left on a hook and swallowing it.

If a receptacle appears to be overflowing or unavailable, please carry the debris home and cut into small pieces before placing into a bin and wrap any hooks in newspaper for safe disposal.

If you accidently hook a bird while fishing, do not cut the line. Slowly reel the bird in, cover its eyes, carefully remove the hook and release the bird. For everyone else enjoying our shorelines, if you see fishing line laying around, please pick it up and dispose of it properly. We should all be more aware of what we can do to protect and preserve birds and wildlife that visit our lakes and streams.

For information on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, visit our website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/asnfs or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/apachesitreavesnfs or follow us on Twitter @A_SNF