Seagull saved by community after being caught in discarded fishing line

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A seagull has a new lease on life thanks to some dedicated New Bern residents.

After getting caught on a fishing lure hook and tangled in the fishing line, the bird hung from a tree for days.

People in New Bern noticed the bird and launched into action.

Now, the Eastern Carolina wildlife sanctuary responsible for the bird’s rehabilitation is using its story to warn people about the dangers of tossing around discarded fishing line.

When Toni O’Neil walks along the river, she brings a garbage bag along with her to pick up discarded fishing materials.

“Every time I pick one up, I go, ‘This is a death trap for something,’” said O’Neil. “I’m so glad I’m removing it.”

But she can’t pick up every lost line and lure.

For the New Bern seagull, the hook lodged its way through the birds mouth and out of its nose.

“When they got him down, he was able to just shake it out. I guess by then the tissue had expanded and made a bigger cut,” explained O’Neil.

The owner of the rehabilitation center responsible for caring for the bird says she was touched to see such a reaction by the community.

“This was a gull, and a lot of people just call gulls ‘beach rats’ and don’t want to do anything for them,” said O’Neil. “They are remarkable birds.”

Those people became the seagull’s saving grace – working to find a way to rescue it from the over 30-foot-tall tree.

They found a willing volunteer with a bucket truck and sent the injured animal to Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary for treatment.

“This was a really lucky guy,” said O’Neil. “So many birds, so much wildlife gets killed, mangled, hanged by all this stuff.”

Two days after its rescue, the seagull was able to stand on its own, but the rehab facility had trouble getting it to eat.

They put the bird close to their other seagulls to try and trigger the instinct.

Today, all three of their seagulls were together outside taking a bath together in a pool of water.

This event serves as a lesson that O’Neil hopes recreational fishers will learn.

“They get caught up in the trees with it or they get trapped somewhere and they can’t move, and they end up starving to death because literally tied in place,” O’Neil said of birds and other animals who get tangled in fishing line.

The people from New Bern who organized the seagull’s rescue mission took a collection to pay the bucket truck owner for his time and effort.

O’Neil says that this was the epitome of everyone bonding together for this one, lucky bird.

Soon, the sanctuary plans to release the seagull back to the wild and they can’t wait to invite everyone instrumental in its saving to see it back where it belongs.

If you come across discarding fishing lines or lures, you are encouraged pick it up and properly dispose of them.

Keep an eye out for special recycling bins that are part of a larger program with the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission.

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