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Save Hooked Birds -- Don't Cut The Line!

Our waterbirds are in constant peril from fishing line and hooks! The Tampa Audubon Society has built a multi-organizational committee that brainstorms and implements ideas to decrease injury and mortality to waterbirds caused by fishing line and hooks. This is a HUGE problem; it is pervasive in all parts of the county, wherever fishing is allowed, whether saltwater or freshwater. However, we believe most people would do the right thing, if they just knew what that was. 

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​SOME DOs and DON'Ts:


  • DON'T CUT THE LINE if you hook a bird! Gently reel the bird in

      and get help releasing it.

  • DON'T feed waterbirds anything, especially fish scraps or bait.

  • DON'T leave fishing poles and lines unattended.

  • DON'T dump leftover or used bait on the ground.

  • DO use designated carcass chutes to dispose of unwanted fish parts.

  • DO cover up your bait.

  • DO properly dispose of all excess and unwanted fishing line and hooks.

  • DO call FWC hotline 888-404-3922 if you find a bird too injured to be released or that can't be untangled. Local rescuers and rehabilitators are always on call to help.


Our committee is made up of representatives from three local Audubon chapters (Tampa, St Pete and Manatee), Coastal Island Sanctuaries, FDEP, FWC, Gulf Coast Bird Rescue, Save All Birds, Save Our Seabirds, Wildlife Rescue Service, and the Skyway Pier. We offer Basic Bird Handling and Rescue classes to train potential Bird Stewards to untangle and unhook birds, and to educate fishermen on how to keep from hooking a bird and what to do if they accidentally hook one. Lee Fox and Beth Weir both generously donate their time to educate us. You will hear more from our committee in the future, as we build our program.


There are 43 marine boat ramps and fishing piers in Hillsborough County alone. That does not include all of the freshwater lakes and rivers where people fish. Please, for now, help spread this message gently to anglers at boat ramps, fishing piers and lakes. We don't want to be divisive; we want to educate. Recently, a young owl was hooked at Lettuce Lake, and a green heron was killed by fishing line in a local lake. At the end of nesting season, dozens of bird skeletons tangled in fishing line are removed from the islands where they have nested. Birds that are rapidly rescued and released suffer fewer permanent, disabling injuries that require expensive rehabilitation (that is in short supply).

If you are interested in us doing a program for your chapter or organization, please contact our Chapter President.

All in a day's work:

Ann Paul of Audubon Florida shows entangled bird carcasses collected from the beach

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