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Recycling fishing line could save animals and birds lives

DESTIN  --  DESTIN - Hundreds of times a year, birds and animals are brought to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge tangled in fishing line, sometimes fatally injured. A group of young business leaders is stepping in to help.

Laura Hussey "In the last ten minutes, this wad of fishing line has tangled around my purse, had to be cut off. It tangled around my microphone, had to be cut off. This stuff entraps just about anything it touches, and it's so much worse when what it's touching is an animal"

When this pelican was brought to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, he was entrapped in line and five fishhooks had dug into his body. His pouch and legs were cut up, from what someone left behind after a fun day on the water.

Susan Leveille/ECWR "The emotional impact for us and for our volunteers is pretty high"

Susan Leveille of the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge says this one will recover, but most of the birds that become entangled don't survive.

Susan Leveille "Something that a human has caused just makes it that much more difficult to accept. We get angry over it, we do the very best we can to help that animal'

Members of Destin Forward, the Destin Chamber of Commerce leadership group, decided to offer help as well. They're taking part in a statewide effort to help people dispose of monofilament line properly. With the help of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, they'll install six of these recycling stations along Destin Harbor, and other popular fishing spots.

Heading out to enjoy the bayou, Morgan Wilson hopes the recycling stations will remind people their choices can mean life or death for local wildlife.

Morgan "I think it's a good idea to preserve things that are just trying to live like we are, and pelicans are very important in the ecosystem for lots of reasons, and I think it's important to try and preserve them and help them along the way as best we possibly can"

Laura Hussey "The Destin Forward group plans to have the recycling stations decorated by local artists, and get them installed by spring, perhaps in conjunction with Earth Day."