Eagle tangled in fishing line seen around Bonita Springs, public's help sought

Anyone who finds the eagle or any other injured bird that isn’t flying should call CROW at (239) 472-3644, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples at (239) 262-3644 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s wildlife alert hot line at (1)-888-404-FWCC. If a bird is flying, there’s nothing wildlife officials can do.

Clinic For the Rehabilitation of Wildlife

3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd., Sanibel, FL

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples

— Most everyone knows the majestic bald eagle likes to fish.

But one seen flying over Bonita Springs may have difficulties doing what comes naturally because reports show it has an estimated 200 feet of monofilament line hanging from it. And that has wildlife rehabilitation experts concerned the symbol of America may become incapacitated or even die if not found.

It also gives wildlife officials a chance to let the public know this isn’t a one-time occurrence. Many animals suffer from fishing line injuries each year; some die or are too badly injured to return to the wild.

P.J. Deitschel, director of the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island, said the clinic was notified of the bird but hasn’t seen it.

“We know he’s flying and has fishing line dangling from his body,” Deitschel said Saturday.

The report came in Tuesday from a Bonita Springs man who couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

“Many animals suffer the same fate every day,” Deitschel said.

As long as the eagle soars, there is a lessened chance of saving its life. If they can fly, they are more difficult to catch, Deitschel said, noting: “This animal could very well end up dead or debilitated.”

“The concern is two-fold. One is that the line gets tangled in something like a tree or mangroves,” Deitschel said, noting this could lead to starvation if the bird cannot fish.

“The other concern is the line tangles and even though he can fly, it can wrap around his wings or legs. We’ve seen many a bird (with) both legs tangled,” she said.

Entanglement can cause numerous problems for wildlife, said Jessica Bender, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. If caught early enough, the line can be removed without any lasting ill-effects on the animal.

“If we can get to the animal right away, the animal has a very large possibility of bouncing right back,” she said. “Monofilament line is not fun. It can cause some serious damage.”

Deitschel said only people who know how to catch the big birds should do so because someone inexperienced could cause harm not only to the animal, but to themselves. Eagles have extremely sharp talons and beaks.

CROW has received several eagles recently.

The eagles have come in with fishing line entanglement, trauma, injuries from vehicles hitting them, eagle against eagle fights and electrical shock.

“We are very fortunate to be able to help them get (medical care and back) out into the wild,” Deitschel said.

But the fishing line problem is one that can be lessened.

“I think it’s a great lesson to everyone who is out fishing,” Deitschel said. “Clean up your line. Fishing line causes a tremendous amount of damage. Every rehab center sees it.”

Monofilament line recycling containers are scattered throughout Southwest Florida.

“We want to educate the public -- if you cut a line, throw that line away in the appropriate place,” she said.

E-mail Valli Finney at vallimfinney@yahoo.com

© 2009 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 11

StellaBlue (Inactive) writes:


Where in Bonita? Might help.

SaraBeth (Inactive) writes:

This type of scenario has been going on for decades. Many times I have come upon dead birds hanging from mangrove, entangled in fishing lines or hooks in their bills...slowly starving to death. The Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys...use to be notorious for the dead birds hanging underneath from fishing line and hooks left behind from anglers.I guess this is considered.."By Catch" of anglers.

I hope this Eagle is found...but I have my doubts.

bluestreak writes:

What happened to the Healthcare meeting in Ft. Myers.

NDN controlling the news?

RunSilentRunDeep writes:

It really is simple, if you cut line, just ball it up and put it in your pocket and recycle it when you get home. If you see someone disposing of the line improperly, pick it up. Don't discuss it, just pick it up.

BalzacGoads writes:

Welcome to the garbage planet. A garbage planet for garbage people. Go USA!

RoadKing writes:

in response to bluestreak:

What happened to the Healthcare meeting in Ft. Myers.

NDN controlling the news?

Wow, where have you been there bluehair. Naples Daily News had that "dog and pony show" covered the other day. Is that rock you are living under to heavy to crawl out from under?

swamp4ever writes:

Maybe the city of burritto should consider banning fishing....

KeyLime writes:

If anyone wants to help (instead of just making snarky remarks), Keep Lee County Beautiful - Monofilament Madness is being held on Oct. 25, 2009. www.klcb.org/sp_monofilament.htm

tootsie writes:

The report comes in LAST TUESDAY... and no one lets the public know until SATURDAY... and it does not hit the papers until SUNDAY... go figure.

A lot of eyes could have been looking for this eagle if it was reported on Wednesday in the papers instead of waiting until Sunday.

I noticed the Naples News did not report HOW or WHY the 200 feet of monofilament line is hanging from this eagle. Is it in the report?

I will bet a fisherman reported that his fish/hook/line was caught by an EAGLE while he was reeling it in. That would explain the 200 feet of monofilament line hanging from the eagle... and why that specific number of feet was reported. The fisherman cut his fishing line when he discovered he had an EAGLE at the end of his line... and estimated how much line was left on his fishing reel before he could cut the line.

Am I right? Is that the part of the story not reported in this article?

Eagles grab fish with their talons... so is the hook with line attached to the talon? I just hope the eagle did not swallow the HOOK that was probably still attached to the fish. If the fisherman was using one of those lures with multiple hooks... then the eagle does not have much of a chance unless someone spots him.

These eagles are just arriving from states like Maryland during the month of OCTOBER. They evidently spend the winter months in South Florida. They took down the eagle cam at the Audubon of Florida for lack of funding... but it is still interesting to read about these birds.

Here is the link:

There are a lot of organizations who TRACK the nests and roosting of eagles in South Florida. I think eagles probably have favorite trees or areas where they roost... and much of this information is recorded by these eagle groups too.

Some of the eagles are fitted with satellite transmitters. Check it out here:


and here

Just wondering if all the eagle watchers have been notified to look in there assigned areas for this injured eagle?

How about an article on eagles with PICTURES? How many eagles are in Florida during what months? Evidently the eagles arrive in OCTOBER in Florida for the winter months... coming from colder states such Maryland. Is Maryland the only state they come from for the winter?

Are there any ACTIVE Eagle cams? How about a complete article on Eagles in South Florida... and not just a paragraph?

We have a lot of nature in Florida... but you seldom write about it unless there is a PROBLEM. I love articles on nature and our critters living in Florida. We are lucky to see a gator article 2-3 times a year in the Naples News.

tootsie writes:


Also how about an article on active live cams in Florida? Are there any ACTIVE nature or scenic CAMS in South Florida? If so, where are they and what is the link to the cam?

There was a link on your front page for a cam in the Naples area... but I have not seen it for a while.

nativeone (Inactive) writes:

Something tells me this is just another PETA stunt.

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