Black-Crowned Night-Heron Entangled in Fishing Line

A juvenile eastern bluebird and a black-crowned night-heron were among the ninety seven animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a marsh rabbit, an evening bat, a northern flicker, a black skimmer, an eastern screech owl and a Florida softshell turtle.

The black-crowned night-heron was found in downtown Naples struggling in a lake, entangled in fishing line. When the heron arrived at the hospital significant injuries were noted on the heron’s wing and leg where the mono-filament line had rubbed against the bird’s skin as it struggled to free itself.

When admitted, the line was removed and the heron received laser treatment to reduce inflammation at the sites of injury. The heron was given an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, Chinese herbs, electrolytes and pain medication. Along with daily wound cleaning the heron continued to receive the laser treatments once a day for several days.

The rehabilitation process was very stressful for the heron especially since the heron would not self-feed. Hospital staff kept handling to a minimum but for certain species, night-herons being one of them, captivity is incredibly hard. Finally, after several days, the heron began to eat on its own. Soon after that the heron’s wounds had healed allowing the heron to be moved from the bird room to a large outdoor recovery enclosure.

After a few days in the outdoor recovery enclosure the heron was flying well and was cleared for release.

If you participate in angler activities and you miscast, please retrieve any line that becomes entangled in nearby vegetation. Leaving line in the environment can be fatal if a bird becomes entangled.

If you accidentally snag a bird while fishing, do not cut the line. Reel the bird in carefully but quickly because a bird struggling against a taut line may cause the line to break and allow the bird to fly off with the line trailing behind. Once the bird is reeled in, cover its head with a towel to help keep the bird calm. If the hook is not deeply embedded, gently push the hook through until the barb is exposed. Clip the barb with a wire cutter and back the barb-less hook out. Step away and allow the bird time to get its bearings and fly off.

If the hook is deeply embedded or if the hook has been ingested, contain the bird and bring it to the wildlife hospital for immediate medical attention.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see

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