Manitoba

Loon that dies after swallowing illegal fish hook should serve as warning, wildlife advocates say

Tiffany Lui of the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre south of Winnipeg hopes that a loon that died after swallowing a pickerel rig is a reminder for Manitobans to be careful with their gear.

Loon couldn't be saved after ingesting pickerel rig illegal in Manitoba

A common loon was transported to Wildlife Haven on August 12 after Conservation officers in Snow Lake, Manitoba found the bird tangled in fish line. (Supplied by Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre)

Tiffany Lui of the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre south of Winnipeg hopes that a loon that died after swallowing a pickerel rig is a reminder for Manitobans to be careful with their gear. 

The common loon was transported to the Wildlife Haven on August 12 after Conservation officers in Snow Lake found the bird tangled in fishing line. Animal care workers quickly realized the line was snagged deep inside the loon's throat and they wouldn't be able to easily remove it.
Veterinarian x-ray on the loon revealed there was no hook attached to the first metal loop of the pickerel rig near the loons mouth but a second barbed hook further down the birds esophagus was too far inside the animal to perform a surgery to remove it. (Supplied by Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre)

X-rays at a veterinarian's office the same day revealed that a barbed hook was stuck too far down to be surgically removed. Lui says they couldn't tell for sure if any tissue had been ripped through or how bad the damage was internally. 

"The condition of the bird, we didn't even know if it would even survive past a day or two in captivity with us in rehab," said Lui.

They decided it was probably more humane to put the animal down..

"With this loon, it's a beautiful bird, we did want to help it out as much as we can. It was a little disappointing and sad that we couldn't save this one," said Lui.
The common loon is the third animal in two weeks that the Wildlife Haven has seen in the past two weeks involving fishing gear entangling animals. (Supplied by Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre)

It's the third incident the centre has seen in the past two weeks involving fishing gear and birds. At the beginning of August a male bald eagle was sent in from Thompson that had been tangled in a fishing net. The eagle is still recovering at the centre. An osprey that came in around the same time wasn't so fortunate. It too was tangled in a net. But by the time the bird reached the rehab centre, the limb was dead and the bird had to be put down.Those cases are in addition to another earlier this summer.

Lui wants people who are travelling in the wilderness or fishing to remember that in Manitoba it is illegal to fish with barbed hooks and that people need to pack out what they've brought in. She says when that doesn't happen, wildlife pays the price. 

"It's definitely saddening to see all these animals coming in with these injuries that may not have needed to come in if things didn't happen they way they did," said Lui.

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