The operator of an Abbotsford wildlife centre wishes people would stop discarding fishing line, which can injure birds that get caught up in it.
Elizabeth Melnick of Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre – which cares for injured, abandoned and sick wild birds and other small animals – is making the plea after aiding a goose earlier this week.
Melnick said she received a call about 10 days ago from a woman who said an injured goose was on her property.
Melnick drove to the site and discovered that the bird had fishing line wound around its legs. The line was loose on one leg but tightly wound on the other.
But when Melnick tried to catch the bird by enticing it with food, it flew away. The bird and his mate returned to the property the following day and so did Melnick, but she was again unable to catch it.
The goose and his partner moved locations and were next spotted in a small park in the area of Old Yale Road west of Clearbrook Road.
By now, the fishing line was cutting into the bird’s leg, causing blistering and tissue damage. Again, he flew away.
Calls then started coming in when the goose was spotted at Fishtrap Creek, not far from the previous location.
This time, a volunteer, Jane, was able to catch the bird after placing food in front of him and grabbing him from behind while he was distracted.
Melnick said when the bird arrived at the centre on Tuesday (March 31), he was otherwise in good shape but the fishing line was deeply embedded into the one leg.
She was easily able to release the line from the other leg, but a visit to the vet was required to remove it from the heavily damaged one.
After his surgery, the bird was returned to Melnick and she administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication and planned to keep him at the centre until Friday.
However, Melnick said geese are deeply committed to their mates, and being separated from his partner caused him great anguish.
She said the bird began slamming into the eight-by-eight-foot cage so violently through the night that she could hear it from her house, which is on the same property.
So Melnick made the decision to release him a day early, because she was fearful that he would kill or injure himself if not returned to his mate.
He was returned to Fishtrap Creek and immediately flew into the water. Melnick said his mate wasn’t there at the time, “but they’ll find each other.”
She said Elizabeth’s Wildlife Centre probably gets at least one call a week about birds caught in fishing line, and she has one piece of advice.
“Just clean up after yourself,” she says.