One of our duck friends, the mama duck above, came to visit us with a badly swollen foot and leg two days ago. I couldn’t get close enough until evening to see that the swelling was caused by what turned out to be fishing line wrapped very tightly around her leg. I didn’t know how I could catch her or get it off since it was embedded in the swollen leg. We called everyone we could think of yesterday for advice, and found an avian vet who could see her if we could catch her.
She didn’t come up from the pond until after the vet’s closing time, and I could see her dragging the line. We took what advice we had and grabbed a sheet. It took some running around and a couple of failed attempts, but we finally got the sheet over her. I picked her up and tucked her under my arm. She was very upset about the sheet being over her head, but once I gently pulled it off, she just looked at me as if she were saying, “Oh, it’s you.” She was so good and well-behaved and sweet, we couldn’t believe it.
I petted her head and talked to her while my mom and dad put my kitty assistant in the house (he was ready and willing to help, but unfortunately we didn’t think he’d add to the calm), and found my little sewing scissors. I handed the duck over to my dad while my mom held the sheet ends out of the way, and I snipped away, a tiny bit at a time, at the tops of the knot heads. There were two knotted areas, with multiple knots very tight against the leg. I kept the scissors pointing at an angle away from her leg, trying to avoid pinching her with them. I managed to get the line free without nicking her, and we were all very relieved. She seemed somewhat disoriented, and so we followed her at a distance to her pond, where she got back in the water with her friends.
This morning, they all came back for some cracked corn. She was determined to come, even though she is still limping. Her friends were going to go back for her, since she was trailing behind, but she limp-marched past them up the hill. She sat right next to me while she had her corn. Her foot and leg are not as swollen, and hopefully they will go back to normal soon. We’ll keep an eye on her.
So, please, if you fish, make sure you leave with everything you came with, and everyone, please take a moment when throwing out dangerous items, to dispose of them carefully. It only takes an extra minute before you throw something into the trash to wad up string/twine/fishing line/yarn/thread/ribbon/etc and tape it into a ball with some duct tape or sports tape, or put it all in a jar/prescription bottle/coffee can/etc. Cut those plastic loops that hold six packs together into little pieces, cut up plastic packaging bands, and knot the ends of the plastic bags you throw out, or cut them all the way open. Just please take a moment to think about all the suffering you can prevent by making some extra, small, conscientious gestures part of your routine. There are lots of little feet, legs, heads, and necks that get caught in those things every day. And if you see this kind of dangerous litter, please take a minute to pick it up and dispose of it properly. It only takes a moment, but you might just save a life.