Fishing wire blamed for fowl injuries, deaths

January 11, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

SYKESVILLE -- Careless fishermen can be the death of Piney Run Lake's wild geese and ducks.

Anglers are fouling the lake and shoreline with discarded gear that is lethal to the birds.

"The fishermen just don't realize, when they throw filament line overboard, that it doesn't rot and it never disintegrates," said Jane Asmis. "Birds can't break it with their beaks, either."

Mrs. Asmis, the owner of Never Die Farm and a longtime neighbor of the park, has rescued many birds ensnared in discarded fishing lines. All too often, she said, her help comes too late.

"It is just horrible to see," she said. "You can't get near the wild ones to untangle them. The wire cuts off their circulation and gangrene sets in. Then, you can't save them."

The birds become entangled as they swim or as they walk through wire that has washed up on shore. Several of Mrs. Asmis' own Toulouse domestic geese, which wander freely around the farm, have fallen victim to the fishermen's cast-offs. The birds become caught in the hooks and wire, which have ended up in her lakeside shrubbery.

"I can usually doctor them up with antiseptic salve and save them," she said.

She even has had a few one-legged geese.

"The wire just cuts the leg off right at the joint," she said. "I pamper them along and they hobble around and survive because I feed them."

Her farm also has become the year-round home to wild Canada geese. She does what she can to protect them, too.

"We had about 40 young [geese] here last summer," she said. "If they get hurt, I try to keep them penned up until they are well enough to fly off."

Recently, she found a wild duck with a fish hook impaled in its breast and wire tangled around both of its feet. The bird had to be put to death. She took its body to the Nature Center and asked the staff for help.

"This is an ongoing problem," said Deanna Hofmann, park naturalist. "We have written warnings in the park newsletter and posted signs asking fishermen to dispose of the wire properly."

Ms. Hofmann said sporting goods stores often will recycle the wire and the park provides many covered cans for disposal. "How can they enjoy nature and be litterbugs at the same time?" she asked.

She, too, has seen the damage wire causes, including birds whose limbs have been severed by wire.

The staff rescued a great blue heron, with its wings entangled in wire, from the woods. It couldn't fly or protect itself from predators. The Humane Society treated and housed the bird until it could be returned to the wild.

Not many of Mrs. Asmis' avian tales have happy endings, though.

"I just want to tell fishermen not to throw their lines overboard," she said. "They should keep the junk for themselves. It kills the wildlife here."

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