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Fishing hooks and cords as threat to waterfowl

Fishing hooks and cords as threat to waterfowl

18.09.2019
We have all seen the consequences of our waste for wildlife, especially when it comes to waterfowl or marine animals - entangled in fishing nets, nylon bags and all the little plastic bits they swallow, assuming it is food etc.

At the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre, veterinarians are most often confronted with young storks that will never be able to leave their nests and head south. The reason for this is the tangling of legs in sisal and nylons that their parents use as nesting material. In most cases, this requires an amputation of the limbs that completely dooms them...

This time we will tell you about a different case on the seaside, and more precisely, on the shore of Pomorie Lake.

Last weekend, people arrivde at the door of the Pomorie Lake Visitor Center bringing us a small Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus) - a species included in Appendices 2 and 3 of the Biological Diversity Act; listed as "Vulnerable" in the Red Book of the Republic of Bulgaria; in Appendix 2 of the Berne and Bonn Conventions; also included in the list of species for conservation in the NATURA 2000 ecological network.

The bird was found helpless and entangled in a fishing cord just off the shore of the lake. One end of the string leads directly to its beak. At first glance it looks like it has swallowed a fishing hook, but we wait for the vets to tell.

The bird was transported to Stara Zagora by a Green Balkans team. Fortunately, at 9 PM on Sunday evening, Dr. Rusko Petrov was still at the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre and waiting for us. The bird was immediately released from the cord wrapped around its body. Minor leg injuries, a few broken feathers and already infectious took several antibiotic injections and as well as an attempt to remove the hook, but failed. The following morning the bird is scanned with an X-ray.
The X-ray confirms - the hook is almost in the stomach! The tiny hero was operated and successfully released from the hook and 30 cm of cord wrapped in the esophagus.
It already feeds on pureed food, but will only be released next year when the broken feathers grow and if it does fully recover, of course.
In the case of this little Mediterranean gull, it has probably swallowed a fish along with the fishing hook. If we go fishing and see such bird behavior, the least we can do is NOT cut the cord. First, let's try to pull out the fish before the bird swallows it. If it's too late, let's try to bring the bird closer to shore using the fishing rope, and if we can manage to get it out of the water, cover it with a towel or some rag so it doesn't get scared.
If we accidentally come across a bird that is visibly entangled with string, sisal, etc., we should keep it the same way.

The next step is to call the responsible institution:
For regional disaster alerts, contact Regional Environmental and Water Inspections - here you can find their phones: https://www.moew.government.bg/en/kontakti/regionalni-inspekcii-po-okolna-sreda/
For consultation and advice you can contact the veterinarians at the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre -
https://greenbalkans-wrbc.org/en/Contact_us-c171

How we can  prevent such incidents affecting the lives of many species of our fauna ?!
• if you are a fisherman, keep fishing gear (hooks, cords, etc.) indoors and dispose of unnecessary ones properly;
• do not leave behind or pass by any waste;
• collect your waste separately and ...
• reduce the consumption of disposable plastic products;
• buy reusable products.