A great blue heron was rescued May 22, after getting wrapped in fishing line and hanging upside down from a power line for hours.
A great blue heron that was trapped on a power line in late May got its happy ending Friday, after weeks of medical care and rehabilitation, when he was released into the wild.
The bird was brought to a small pond at the Celery Fields. After being released from his crate, he took a few steps and flew into the air amid muffled cheers from a small group of onlookers. He circled the area before landing in the water, finally home again.
On May 22, the bird was found caught in a power line on Debrecen Road, hanging upside down, entangled in fishing line that kept him trapped there for hours.
“It was pretty traumatic, if you can imagine hanging upside down in the Florida baking sun for several hours by one leg,” said Sandy Ulrikson, a volunteer at the Wildlife Center of Venice, where the bird was taken to recover. “It’s not a yoga class.”
After Sarasota County Animal Services were called, they contacted Florida Power and Light, which sent a bucket truck and crew to rescue the great blue heron.
Ulrikson said the fishing line was attached to a Snuggle fabric softener jug, leading her to believe the bird got tangled in the line that someone left in the water while jug fishing — the practice of tying bait to one end of a fishing line to catch bottom-feeders like catfish, while the jug floats at the top of the water for easy pick-up later.
“The bird and the people are going after the same fish,” Ulrikson said.
The bird received medical treatment for heat and stress-related injuries, as well as damage to his foot, earning him a “bootie” while it healed. He made a full recovery.
Since May 22, another bird — this time a pelican — wrapped in a fishing line was rescued from a tree in Venice, with the help of the Fire Department.
“It’s not uncommon at all, unfortunately,” Ulrikson said.
Kevin Barton, director and founder of the Wildlife Center of Venice, said they see situations like this every year, often from things people put in the environments that have unintended consequences.
“If you’re not going to stay with your fishing pole and your bait, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s trash, it’s dangerous, it lingers in the environment and gets unintended animals,” he said.