Fishing is fun any time of the year. But, there is nothing quite like being outdoors on a warm sunny day and casting your line into clear water trying to tempt a fish into taking your bait.
Imagine that you are having a great day. The fish are biting well ... until you make a bad cast. Planning to drop your lure just in front of a large rock near shore, you cast a bit too far and your lure wraps around an overhanging branch. It is remarkable how quickly a tiny jig can tie a huge knot!
You break the line and tie another lure onto the new end of your line. Not wanting to leave the line hanging from the branch, you pull it free. It may have taken three or four minutes, but you are again back into the fishing action.
What about the useless tangled fishing line you now have in your hand? If you planned ahead, you may have a small trash bag to put the line into. Or, you can put it in your pocket, stuff it into your tackle box … there are many places to put the tangled line. The worst choice, however, would be to toss it into the water or drop it on the ground.
Discarded monofilament line can present serious hazards. The line is difficult to spot when submerged in water. Fish, birds and other wildlife can become entangled, leading to disastrous results and quite possibly death for an animal.
Monofilament fishing line is particularly hazardous to wildlife because it is long-lasting, nearly invisible, and very strong and durable. Entanglement in improperly discarded fishing line kills all kinds of animals, but water-loving birds and mammals are particularly vulnerable.
The BoatUS Foundation recognized this problem and created the “Reel-In and Recycle Program” to address the threat of monofilament line in our nation’s waters. The program encourages individuals and organizations to construct, place, and maintain monofilament recycling bins in areas where a lot of fishing activity takes place. A video showing what materials are needed and how to build a recycling bin are found on the BoatUS website. BoatUS will even provide adhesive stickers stating what the odd looking PVC bins are for.
Berkley Fishing is a major sponsor of the program. The company recycles monofilament line sent in by volunteers, and then turns the fishing line into artificial fish habitat that actually benefits fish and does not harm wildlife.
The Coeur d’Alene Chapter of the Audubon Society has raised funding and volunteered the time to build, place and maintain several Reel in and Recycle bins at local fishing areas. Bins have been installed at boat ramps or on docks on Hayden Lake, Killarney Lake, and on Lake Coeur d’Alene (Blue Creek Bay and Wolf Lodge Bay). Advance permission of the agency managing each facility was secured prior to placement. Additional bins are in the works.
Along with constructing the bins, Coeur d’Alene Audubon volunteers also made interpretive signs that tell anglers and others why fishing line is so dangerous to wildlife.
Volunteers collect the monofilament line from these bins on a regular basis and send them to Berkley for recycling. When volunteers go to empty the bins, some are filled exclusively with monofilament line. Others collect significant quantities of unwanted materials such as pop cans and plastic containers. Coeur d’Alene Audubon members are hopeful that visual recognition of the bins and an understanding of their purpose will raise public awareness of this project, and result in a higher amount of monofilament line and less trash in each bin. Anglers are asked to place their waste fishing line into these bins and to encourage others to do the same. These bins are for monofilament line only, not trash or recyclable cans and bottles.
For more information on the National Reel-In and Recycle Program, visit www.boatus.org/monofilament.
For more information on Coeur d’Alene Audubon’s Reel-In and Recycle Program contact Peggy at 664-1616, Carrie at 661-9777 or George at 664-2787.
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Phil Cooper is a wildlife conservation educator employed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in the Panhandle Region.