X-ray image showing hooks and line inside a pelican’s stomach

Hook-and-line injury prevention begins with education and awareness

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital


When fortunate enough to live in a region as beautiful as Southwest Florida, we must remember that the beloved qualities of our region must be cared for and protected. As beaches begin to get more crowded with humans and migrating wildlife, and we celebrate the reopening of the Naples Pier, now is a fitting time to remind ourselves of best practices to protect shorebirds when fishing.

To that end, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is proud to introduce a new video outlining ways the public can help prevent hook-and-line injuries to shorebirds. The video will play at the Naples Pier, on Naples Community television and on the Conservancy’s website. I invite you to watch, learn from and share the following video with others.

In late 2013 and early 2014, the Conservancy received a staggering increase in injured pelicans due to hook-related incidents, a majority of which were reported at the Naples Pier, a popular fishing spot for locals and tourists. In order to combat the rising number of wildlife injuries, the Conservancy partnered with the City of Naples to address the problem and find solutions.

Educational signage developed by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida

In addition to treating the 1,700 percent increase in pelicans admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, the Conservancy funded two part-time beach patrol officers specifically to serve at the Naples Pier during high season.

The patrols proved to be so successful the City of Naples added the two additional officers in 2015.

Also, the Conservancy hosted a series of seminars for the public, partner agencies and community groups to learn the proper way to unhook or untangle shorebirds to minimize the extent of injuries.

Conservancy signage at the pier proved to be so helpful, it was picked up by coastal communities from the Florida Keys to Anna Maria Island in Sarasota County.


More experienced anglers can help educate visitors and guests:

  • Purchase a strong leader line. Otherwise the line can easily snap.
  • Use caution when casting your line.
  • If you hook a bird:
  • Never cut the line. The bird will fly away with the hook embedded and the filament line can get tangled in branches.
  • Grab a net.
  • Raise the bird up to the pier.
  • Cover its head to help it calm down.
  • Gently work to expose the barb.
  • Cut the barb and back the smooth part of the hook out.
  • Please help others if you see an entangled bird.
  • If the bird has swallowed the hook or the hook is deeply embedded, do not attempt to remove the hook.
  • Bring it to the Conservancy’s von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Our trained wildlife professionals are here to help. www.conservancy.org 239.262–2273 * (CARE)

Conservancy of SWFL

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Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of life...now and forever.