HOW TO HELP
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.
3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd., Sanibel, FL
1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples
BONITA SPRINGS — 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.