Paul Waller was birding in Boyntan Beach, Florida this past Tuesday. He was walking through the marsh at Green Cay Wetland when he spotted a Roseate Spoonbill that was caught up in a fishing line. This is what we birders dread. Fishing tackle left behind can be a death sentence for birds and other wildlife.
Paul sprung into action by first contacting the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This call proved fruitless.
Paul’s next attempt to get help for the bird was a call to Hope Mayer. Hope, a friend of Paul, is a licensed and experienced wildlife rescuer with experience dealing with wild birds. Luckily, Paul had this great contact that was available to assist.
Paul made a quick trip to pick up Hope and they returned to find the Spoonbill at the same spot because the fishing line prevented it from moving anywhere. Paul climbed down the raised boardwalk and got into the water and waded out to the bird following instructions from Hope about how to handle it and cut the fishing line.
Paul successfully got the bird loose and carried it back to the boardwalk where he transferred it to Hope. By this time, a crowd had formed to watch the rescue. A couple of bystanders helped Paul get back on the boardwalk.
Hope and Paul placed the Spoonbill into a pet carrier and got it into the hands of South Florida Wildlife Center. The spoonbill had an embedded fishing hook that they will remove and then the bird will need to stay for rehabilitation before hopefully being released back into the wild.
This Roseate Spoonbill is alive today thanks to Paul and Hope. Wildlife Heros!
If you see an animal in distress please report the sighting as soon as possible to a trained rescuer. A call to a local wildlife rehabilitation center could bring help. Unfortunately, they are not often nearby or they do not have anyone who can respond. They often rely on a network of volunteers.
Another option is to call the Department of Fish and Wildlife for your state. This may not work either though. I have tried to get help on two separate occasions for injured wild birds and no one came out in either situation. This is often the reality of trying to get help for injured wildlife…and so it was really great the Paul knew a wildlife rescuer nearby.
South Florida Wildlife Center: If you find injured or orphaned wildlife in South Florida, call 954-524-4302 or 866-SOS-WILD.