Fishing hook removed from pelican’s mouth

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A brown pelican was among the 62 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a brown thrasher, a Cooper’s hawk, a great egret and a Florida softshell turtle.

The brown pelican was rescued by a member of the public who saw it floundering in the water on the beach in Naples. Hospital staff worked to remove the line that was wrapped around the bird’s left wing and leg and the hook that was embedded in the soft tissue in the corner of the pelican’s mouth. A radiograph showed the pelican had not ingested any hooks.

#1 On The list: Supervise Your Pets.

Constriction from the line caused swelling on the left wing and an encircling wound on the pelican’s left leg. The pelican required pain medication, electrolytes, anti-inflammatory medication, Chinese herbs, laser therapy and a course of antibiotics.

The pelican continues to recover in the bird room at the hospital.

Video playing at the Naples Pier

Even with all the damage caused by the hook and line, this pelican was one of the lucky ones. A second pelican was admitted last week but unfortunately it was dead on arrival. A radiograph of the pelican showed a fish hook deeply embedded in the pelican’s cervical spine.

If you participate in angling activities and miscast, please retrieve any line that becomes entangled in nearby vegetation. Leaving line in the environment can be fatal if a bird becomes entangled.

If you accidentally snag a bird while fishing, do not cut the line. Reel the bird in carefully but quickly. A bird struggling against a taut line may cause the line to break and allow the bird to fly off entangled in the hook and line.

Once the bird is reeled in, cover its head with a towel to help calm the bird. If the hook is not deeply embedded, gently push the hook through until the barb is exposed. Clip the barb and back the hook out. Step away and allow the bird time to gain its bearings and fly off.

If the hook is deeply embedded, as was the case with both of the pelicans admitted last week, or if the hook has been ingested, contain the bird and bring it to the wildlife hospital for immediate medical attention.

There are many obstacles and challenges facing wildlife as they try to live a world altered by people. If you find an animal in distress please call the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at 239–262-CARE for information. Staff can analyze the situation and determine the appropriate course of action. Sometimes an animal just needs a little help to get it back in the wild where it belongs.

Recent Releases — 20 Animals Returned Home

  • 1 Virginia opossum
  • 1 gray catbird
  • 2 gray squirrels
  • 1 eastern screech owl
  • 1 glass lizard
  • 1 great horned owl
  • 1 Florida box turtle
  • 1 northern cardinal
  • 1 red-shouldered hawk
  • 1 eastern harvest mouse
  • 4 eastern cottontails
  • 1 osprey
  • 1 gopher tortoise
  • 1 American kestrel
  • 1 northern parula
  • 1 laughing gull

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers are needed more than ever during our incredibly busy summer season. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

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