Earth Notes
2:27 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Earth Notes: The Line on Fishing Line

Arizona claims a unique population of desert-nesting bald eagles. Those eagles often build their big bulky nests near water, including lakes and rivers in the northern part of the state. The birds use about anything they can find in nest construction—including used fishing line.

Untangling birds from discarded fishing line
Untangling birds from discarded fishing line
Credit Arizona Game and Fish Department

That’s created a serious problem. Almost every year biologists find birds tangled in the line. A few snared eagles have died by entanglement, while others may starve or lose appendages.

While biologists are banding eagles in their nests, they remove the line if they find it. Looking for a better solution, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee started the Monofilament Recovery Program. Monofilament fishing line can last hundreds of years in the environment. Anglers are urged to properly dispose of it so that eagles and other raptors, waterfowl, and mammals too, aren’t caught.

Recycling disposal containers are located around popular lakes and rivers, at boat ramps, and in tackle shops. They’re put there with the help of Boy Scouts, anglers’ groups, and others. Signs bearing the motto “Don’t Leave Your Line Behind” mark these recycling stations.

To avoid broken line, anglers are urged to use appropriate test line, set the drag correctly, and replace fishing line each year.

Though they may not want to reveal their favorite fishin’ hole, anglers can let their friends know about this important monofilament disposal program, and help protect our nation’s symbol.