San Pedro, CA
juvenile pelican rescued at
Redondo Beach because of fishing
line entanglement was found to
also have been shot. The
wildlife experts at International
Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)
in San Pedro did radiographs to
determine the extent of injury
caused by the fishing line and
three fish hooks imbedded in the
birds body and were shocked to
discover two bullets lodged in
the bird’s chest and wing.
The young brown pelican, an
endangered species, was examined
by IBRRC Assistant Rehabilitation
Manager, Erin Kellogg who speculated
the young pelican was most likely
shot and then became entangled
in line. Redondo Beach’s
Pier allows fishing without a
license and many anglers are
not aware that when they hook
a pelican and cut the line, it
leads to a slow death for the
bird. Shooting of an endangered
species is a Federal offense.
The young pelican was rescued
by Whale Rescue Team founder
Peter Wallerstein who rushed
the bird to IBRRC’s bird
hospital in San Pedro. Unknown
numbers of California Brown Pelicans
have died this year due to domoic
acid poisoning and starvation. Fishing
line/hook injuries increase dramatically
during the summer months when
people head to public piers along
the coast to cast their lines.
Fishing line/hook injuries are
serious and expensive to treat
because many require surgery,
long term care and antibiotic
numbers of animals are impacted
and die slow painful deaths.
IBRRC has cared for a record number
of pelicans this year, over 300,
and has been struggling to get
in enough donations to pay the
bill for fish, which is almost
$40,000. Members of the public
who would like to help IBRRC help
the pelicans can do so through
several different adoption programs. For
more information, see the adopt
a bird area in IBRRC's website
or call Ann Yusada at 707-207-0380
Fishing can cause much needless
suffering and death to seabirds,
mammals and even fish when lines
and hooks are not used and disposed
of properly. Monofilament
line, nets and hooks should be
considered lethal weapons. Lines
should never be cut and allowed
to drift in the ocean and care
should be taken with fishing around
pelicans and other seabirds. Unfortunately,
millions of seabirds die every
year from the pollution caused
by discarded nets and line. Here
are some recommendations from IBRRC’s
1. Switch to barbless hooks. The use of barbless hooks
works well for getting hooks out of birds and it has
been proven that very few fish ever get away because
a hook is barbless and causes less harm to fish that
are caught and released.
2. Never discard used lines over the side of the boat
or leave it where you've fished. Please dispose of
it properly and if you can't find a receptacle close
by, just carry it out with you and dispose of it properly.
Monofilament line entanglement is a slow and painful
death. If you ever see lines or hooks in the water,
on the beach, or anywhere in the environment, pick
it up and cut it into little pieces before disposing
3. Avoid casting when seabirds are in the area, you
may avoid having to reel in a hooked one and having
to deal with it.
If you hook or find a hooked bird, here’s how
to help it:
1. In California, contact
IBRRC or a local wildlife rehabilitation center
near you. Many lifeguards and pier managers know
who to call for help. Never just walk away from
a hooked bird -- Get help!
2. NEVER just cut the line, leaving some of the mono
filament, it can kill the bird and other birds can
get wrapped in it as well.
3. Get someone to help you. It is just about impossible
to do the job of holding the bird and removing the
hook and/or line alone. Use a lot of common sense and
caution. Birds will instinctively go for your eyes
with their beaks.
4. Figure out how you can safely capture the bird.
If you have a large poled net, you can use that. Or,
drop a cast net over the bird, being careful not to
bend and break the feathers. Don't try and lift or
pull the bird by the hooked line! It will cause the
bird to struggle from pain and you'll just set the
hook and cause more damage.
5. Get control of the birds head, but don't hold the
bill shut. Pelicans can't breathe if their bills are
held shut. Grasp the bird's bill with your hands and
keep a hold on it, before removing it from the net.
If you have a towel or heavy shirt available you can
cover the bird's head to help calm it.
6. Untangle the bird and make sure you get it all lines
off. If there are no hooks in the bird, carefully release
it while protecting your face. If the bird is too weak
to fly, get it to a wildlife rehabilitation center
for medical treatment.
7. If a hook is embedded in the flesh, gently push
it through until you can see the barb. Clip the barb
off and pull the hook back out. Be careful to cover
the hook before you cut it, the hook could fly into
your face while being cut. If you leave the hook or
barb in the bird it will die from infection. Switch
to barbless hooks.
8. If the hook is through bone or the bird is bleeding
badly or seems very lethargic and non-aggressive it
is already in serious condition and will need professional
help. Do not release the bird, but call IBRRC or your
local wildlife rehabilitator and get it help as quickly
as possible. Never keep the bird and try and treat
it yourself, it is illegal to do so.
IBRRC has been helping
birds around the world since 1971.
Its mission is to mitigate human
impact on aquatic birds and other
wildlife. This is achieved through
rehabilitation, emergency response,
education, research, planning and