As we all head out for a holiday weekend, here's a quick reminder that things we use everyday can be dangerous to wildlife.
A sad story just came in from the US Navy regarding an island fox on San Clemente Island. "I'm honestly surprised we have not seen this before," says Melissa Booker, Navy Wildlife Biologist/Natural Resources Manager for San Clemente Island. "Discarded fishing line is notorious for impacting marine species and birds. Sadly, add foxes to the list."
"We lost this young female to entanglement this [past] weekend."
You can see how the fox caught her tiny foot in the snarl of discarded fishing line, which was out of sight in the bush. Struggling to free herself, only tightened the line.
Especially during hot summer days, the window to save an entrapped animal is short.
This death could have been easily avoided. Fishing line should always be disposed of so that it doesn't endanger wildlife. Left on the ground or in the water, it remains a threat for years.
If you have to cut fishing line because of a snarl, don't let it get away from you. If you see a snarl of fishing line, carefully pick it up. Dispose of fishing line into a closed trash container. Be careful of fishing hooks, they are also dangerous to people and wildlife. Island fox injured by fishing hook - Sea lion caught in fishing debris
Fishing line isn't the only everyday item that can be dangerous to small animals. Another member of the Island Fox Conservation Recovery Group, research ecologist Brian Cypher of CSU-Stanislaus reports: "...we have documented 60+ kit foxes so far getting tangled and trapped in soccer nets or baseball batting cage nets" in California's Central Valley. A third of the trapped kit foxes didn't survive the entanglement.
Even COVID-19 face masks dropped on the ground can become a hazard for small animals. The ear-loops get hooked around small mammals, birds, and even fish.
But YOU can help all of these animals. These situations can easily be prevented.
- Put old fishing line safely into trash containers
- Drop game nets or lift them up off the ground to reduce entanglement
- Cut the ear loops on face masks before disposing of them
Let's have a safe summer for people and wildlife!
Other things to be aware of if you are visiting the Channel Islands this summer
Growing list of animals recently involved with fishing line:
Pacific pond turtle (endangered species)