Injuries from entanglement can be horrendous

SOME locals are playing a deadly game and catching more than fish on their lines.

Russell, a young, male, grey-headed flying-fox is in care after being rescued from Boambee Creek and having three fishing hooks removed from his body.

One hook had pierced his mouth and penetrated his jaw and Russell was also tightly entangled in discarded line. After extensive veterinary treatment, it appears he’s on the way to recovery.

A young grey-headed female flying-fox at Moonee Creek was not so lucky. Although no hooks were involved, her struggles against fishing line had smashed two major bones in one of her wings. The injury was so extensive she had to be euthanased.

Discarded fishing line is dangerous for wildlife. Birds, turtles and bats will struggle if tangled in fishing line. The struggle often causes the line to tighten, cutting into legs, feet, necks, wings and other body parts leading to serious injury or death.

The local team at Wildlife Information and Rescue Service is urging locals to be mindful when fishing and to properly dispose of fishing line.

Discarded fishing line can be lethal to local wildlife
Discarded fishing line can be lethal to local wildlife

“People will usually check before they cast to make sure they’re not going to snag a human, but too many don’t also check for overhanging trees, bushes or nearby power cables,” said Jen Beatson, Flying-Fox Coordinator, WIRES Mid North Coast Branch.

“The line gets snagged, but instead of attempting to dislodge or remove it, it’s simply cut and left – often with hooks and lures still attached which cause additional serious injuries to wildlife.

“We’ve had two calls in three weeks to attend flying-foxes hanging hopelessly tangled in discarded line over creeks and lakes at popular fishing spots.

“The rescues can be quite dangerous. Often requiring the use of a kayak or paddleboard to get out into the creek, a ladder to gain height, then careful use of an extendable tree pruner to cut the line or branch above the bat in order the rescue it.

“The injuries to the bat from the entanglement can be horrendous. Try tying a piece of fishing line tightly around your finger for a couple of hours and you will see what I mean.”

Discarded fishing line provides the landscape with a lethal gift that keeps on killing.

A deadly trap for local wildlife
A deadly trap for local wildlife

“Studies have shown monofilament line can take up to 600 years to break down in the environment. While many anglers dispose of this entangled line in responsible ways, the increasing number of fishing line entanglement calls WIRES is receiving means that too many don’t.”

Seal the Loop, (a project of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and CHCC in partnership with Zoos Victoria) has been addressing the issue providing bins for waste fishing line around the Jetty area.

“I’d love to see a similar project set up around popular fishing creeks and other inland waterways.”

WIRES is asking fishing enthusiasts to ‘look up and around before you cast’ and to dispose of unwanted fishing line responsibly.

“Not only will you not lose your favourite hooks and lures, but you’ll be part of the solution, not the problem.”

If you see a bat in trouble, do not touch it. Call WIRES 1300 094 737 immediately. They will despatch trained, vaccinated bat team members.

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