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Photo: Tidewater Wildlife Rescue/Facebook

Va. Wildlife Rescue Saves Pelican Tangled in Fishing Line

A pelican, snagged by fishing line with a hook stuck in his bill in Virginia Beach, has a chance at life thanks to Tidewater Wildlife Rescue and the person who called them.

Tidewater reported on its Facebook page a concerned observer saw the pelican on the rip rap in the Croatan Beach area of Virginia Beach with a fishing line wrapped around his wing. There was also a hook in his mouth with a lure and weight.

Ken Messner was that concerned observer, who happened to be working on a customer’s boat lift on Lake Rudee. He tells Bay Bulletin he first noticed a group of about six pelicans, and all but one flew away; that one was left struggling on the seawall. “I went to put my dog away, and when I returned the pelican was swimming with difficulty, but I was unable to catch him without a boat.”

Messner called the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, who referred him to a rescue hotline. Tidewater Wildlife Rescue responded, working for more than an hour trying to find the pelican, then rescue him via kayak in cold, windy conditions.

“The group of ladies that responded were fast and motivated to save him,” Messner tells us.

The pelican in the water, with a hook still in its bill and fishing line wrapped around its wing. Photo: Tidewater Wildlife Rescue/Facebook

Tidewater says they can tell from the pelican’s coloring that he’s a juvenile, born in the last breeding season. A veterinarian was able to fully remove the hook that pierced his bill, Tidewater says.

“Sadly, this is another example of pain and suffering caused by thoughtless disposal of fishing tackle,” Tidewater writes in its post.

While the pelican is now doing well, he’ll be in rehab for several weeks as his wounds heal.

-Meg Walburn Viviano