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Bald eagle snagged by fishing line spotted at B.C. lake

An Australian couple captured photos of the eagle while vacationing in the area
An Australian couple vacationing in the Shuswap captured photos of a bald eagle that appears to have been ensnared by a fishing line on Aug. 3, 2023. (Neil Poh photo)

A vacationing Australian couple captured a majestic — and concerning — photo of a bald eagle in flight at Little Shuswap Lake.

Neil Poh and his wife were spending time at the northwest side of the lake on Aug. 3 when they saw the eagle. Poh had his camera on him and snapped a few photos.

It wasn’t until he had uploaded the photos onto his computer that he realized something was wrong.

“It became clear there was a fishing hook embedded in the eagle’s right wing with a length of fishing line (perhaps a metre long) attached,” he said. “Needless to say we were quite alarmed.”

Having already returned to Australia, Poh asked his Canadian friend to get in touch with the Wildlife Rescue Association and the OWL Rehabilitation Society, but both groups told him there was nothing they could do.

Poh said that was understandable; “however, I’m very concerned about the ongoing risk of entanglement of the line, which could have disastrous consequences for the eagle, not to mention the ongoing pain/discomfort it might be suffering.”

Pete Wise, owner and operator of Wise Wildlife Control Services in Coldstream, said he deals with quite a few situations involving wildlife getting hooked or tangled in fishing lines.

He said the most difficult part of rescuing an eagle snagged by a fishing line is capturing the bird.

“They’re a big powerful bird but if somebody can catch one and they’re looking for help, they can always bring them to us,” he said.

Wise said wildlife hazards related to fishing aren’t usually to do with fishermen casting their line; more often the issue is fishing line left on the ground.

“They end up with a pile of fishing line on the ground and the eagle can get hooked up in that,” Wise said. “The other thing is that sometimes a fish will break off, meaning it escaped from the fisherman, but it still has a piece of line attached, and that’s another scenario that we deal with on occasion.”

Poh said he and his wife loved seeing Canadian wildlife during their vacation, but having seen the hooked bald eagle, they hope to spread awareness and encourage fishermen to take extra care.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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