On April 4, 2020 Ocean Shores photographer Pat Hayes gave me a call, indicating that a Bald Eagle was dead on the beach north of Ocean Shores. I drove to the closest access road and found the way blocked to vehicle traffic due to the pandemic.
Thinking that my research permit from Washington State Parks had me covered, I drove around the barricade and soon found the eagle, lying on its back and terribly tangled in fishing line.
At his feet was a dead gull, also tangled in line. Apparently the eagle tried for an easy meal and got caught up in the line with the gull (red arrow). Had the beach been open to the public, it’s very likely that the eagle would have been rescued.
The only good to come out of this was an newspaper article by Kat Bryant in The Daily World sharing the sad story and what people can do to avoid this all too common problem: dispose of fishing gear properly; do not release fish that still have hooks in them; use the appropriate test line for desired fish to reduce the chances of line breakage; and replace fishing line yearly.
Fast forward to December 14, 2022 when during a raptor survey we found the tangle of fishing line and driftwood shown below.
We dragged the bundle off the beach and dropped it for disposal by Washington State Parks.
Of course fishing line not only threatens raptors. This tangled mess held a live Dungeness Crab and a dead fish. We returned the crab to the ocean where, unfortunately, it was quickly snatched by a gull that was keeping close watch on our activities.