Plastic pollutants cause concern for geese, other wildlife

Local News

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — As the weather warms up, more people are headed outdoors to enjoy area parks.

However, animal experts are warning people to make sure their pollutants and recreational waste, like fishing line, are being discarded properly.

Education Coordinator at the Ecology Action Center (EAC) Jen Gravley said while fishing lines are more common in the summer, all pollutants like personal protective equipment and the “most-popular” plastic bags cause issues to geese, fish and other wildlife.

“A lot of the entanglements that we see are around feet or wings in birds, but also around fins in fish,” Gravley said. “It reduces their mobility, they can’t get around, can’t take off or land properly, and if the entanglement is severe or the plastic item stays there for awhile, it’s likely to cause injuries or infections.”

Geese at Bloomington’s Miller Park have been spotted with fishing lines tied around their feet. Local wildlife rescue agent Chase Cavalera said he’s seen this issue a lot in geese and other birds.

“If it can walk, run, fly or swim, as the boss says, leave it alone. So there are times when it has a fishing line on or it’s tangled and I can actually catch them,” Cavalera said. “I’m sure you’ve seen videos of me getting it off of them and sometimes I’m able to, but if it can fly away or swim away, then I’ve been duped by a bird.”

Cavalera has been rescuing animals in distress for five years and runs Local Tarzan’s Compassionate Wildlife Solutions, a volunteer “animal/human friendly answer for wildlife issues.” He said he works independently with guidance from the Dept. of Natural Resources, but does it for his love of wildlife.

“They’re part of the universe for some reason. Each one, each species has a particular job and it’s all-important in the balance of things,” Cavalera said.

Gravley said people can replace plastic bags with durable, reusable carriers and said accidents happen, but to make sure waste ends up in the garbage to avoid animal injuries.

Find out more about Local Tarzan’s Compassionate Wildlife Solutions here on its Facebook page.

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