Lucky bird escapes slow death from fish hook

CARING: Colleen and Goetz Von Schweinfurth and Adrian Knott release the female white-faced heron at Munna Pt after two weeks in care.
CARING: Colleen and Goetz Von Schweinfurth and Adrian Knott release the female white-faced heron at Munna Pt after two weeks in care. Amber Macpherson

AFTER having a fishing hook stuck in its throat and entangled in fishing line, a white-faced heron is now back in its habitat thanks to a few human helpers.

"I thought it would die - it's a miracle,” Goetz Von Schweinfurth said.

Mr Von Schweinfurth has been helping injured sea birds in Noosa for years, and said he was disgusted by the "huge” number of birds wounded by fishing lines and hooks.

"In the last three weeks there's been 28 birds injured by fishing lines,” he said.

"That's just in Noosa. It's horrific.”

Mr Schweinfurth was alerted to the three-year-old female bird at Munna Point a few weeks ago.

The bird was operated on at Rene St Veterinarians and sent to Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue to be rehabilitated, before being released by Mr Schwein- furth, his wife Colleen and fellow bird rescuer Adrian Knott on Friday.

Mr Schweinfurth said he had pleaded with Noosa Council for months to install signs letting fishers know

of the impact of leaving

lines and hooks near waterways.

"People don't realise - it (fishing line) wraps around their (birds') legs so they can't forage,” he said.

"Bush turkeys have to be put down if their feet have been wrapped up for too long.

"Have a sign saying animals are here, too.

"We need to get the consciousness out there.”

Mr Schweinfurth said after school holidays was a particularly bad time for birds presenting with fishing-line injuries.

"Fathers and families come here with their children and they don't clean up properly,” he said.

"There's two places where you can put fishing lines

and hooks, there's here (Munna Point) and another down the very end of the (Noosa) Woods.”

Mr Schweinfurth is trained to catch injured birds and other animals correctly, but is not employed or volunteering with a specific organisation.

"We're all volunteers. There's no resources here, we spend hours, days, weeks trying to catch these animals,” he said.

"We don't want any money, we just want help.”

Mr Schweinfurth commended the work of the Twinnies in Landsborough and Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, but said more local and state government support was needed.

"We want to say to the Department of Fisheries and Agriculture, the surplus of fish the professional fishers catch, give them to the sea bird rescue charities,” he said.

"The Twinnies get nothing and they work

so hard.

"The Noosa Council should address the issue here. We look forward to working with the council, but so far we've been ignored.

"Let's work together to solve the issue.”

The public can contact Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre if they come across an injured sea bird or animal.

Topics:  environment fishing heron noosa wildlife

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