Fishing in the fall season can be the best time to snag walleye and perch, but littered lines and hooks also ensnare and injure wildlife, according to an expert.
Zoe Nakata is the Executive Director of Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre in Ile de Chenes, Manitoba.
She and the team at centre help roughly 2,000 injured wildlife animals a year. Garbage and litter can often end up hurting wildlife, as they'll attempt to eat it or use if for their bedding, according to Nakata.
She says, "Anytime we can dispose of things responsibly is good for the environment, is good for the animal."
Over the autumn months, Manitoba lakes draw many fishermen. Throwing away the line or hooks after can do a lot of harm.
"One injury that we do see quite often is fishing line injuries. A lot of shorebirds will become tangled in the fishing line. We even have turtles that get injured by tangled up [line] or even hooks that are ingested by animals. That is the biggest culprit."
As this season approaches, Nakata says there is something to consider while fishing, to keep the rest of the wildlife out of harm's way.
"The biggest way we can help is just to dispose of all of these things responsibly. Find a secure garbage bin or when you're at home, put it in a garbage bag, and tie that securely."
Wildlife Haven has four full-time staff members that are certified wildlife rehabilitators, and also work alongside dozens of volunteers. They have generous veterinarians from Winnipeg who also offer their services on a voluntary basis, to help animals out in a dire situation.
"We have seen squirrel and birds build their nest with plastic, which is not good for them or for the environment."
As masks have become mandatory in many stores, Nakata says she's noticed them littered around Winnipeg recently.
"With disposable masks, it's always a good idea to cut that elastic. That will reduce the risk of it getting tangled up into an owl's legs, for example."
The centre receives thousands of calls a month from people who have found an injured animal and don't know what to do.
"Even if you're not sure if something needs to come in give us a call. We're happy to walk you through the situation," says Nakata.
"If we're able to say, 'leave the animal there, the mom will come back', that's a win in our books."
If an animal does need further attention, the centre helps direct people with the best way to do that, and once the animal has been rehabilitated, staff release them into the wild as soon as possible.
You can also check an interesting article on the best fishing lines on the market today.