To the Editor:
This is a follow-up to the commentary from Nancy Erb published in July by the Gasparilla Gazette about a great blue heron.
Treated like a nuisance, this great blue heron has been hooked, not once, but twice. Both times a fishermen simply cut the line and let the bird go - hook still imbedded in the bird - to face certain death.
The first time this bird was lucky with a hook embedded in her foot. She couldn't walk of fish for food. But my husband, Palmer, was able to net her and remove the hook. The bird fully recovered.
Just 10 days ago, I watched as four young men pulled their boat up to our dock. I noticed the heron was there as well. Standing on the beach, the bird watched every bait thrown.
I ran to the dock to protect this bird and warn the young men that the heron was there. I told them I was afraid for the bird. What if they caught her with a fishing hook? They just laughed.
I'm not laughing.
A week later, the great blue heron came to us again for help. But this time she was not as lucky. She had a leader and weight hanging from her mouth and a hook in her throat.
The heron stayed with us for several hours. She kept twisting hr neck and pecking at the weight hitting her chest.
We tried to feed her in hopes of catching her again. But she couldn't eat. She tried. She picked the fish up but couldn't open her beak to swallow.
The bird then flew away - to the mangroves, we suppose. As of Aug. 30, it had been three days and we haven't seen her. We suspect we'll never see this bird again.
Palmer and I are so upset and very sad. This is a beautiful, trusting bird. She didn't know some people could be so cruel.
It is appalling what happened to this great blue heron. That it happened on Boca Grande, where these great blue herons are usually protected is equally appalling.
I am urging all the people who fish the docks along Gasparilla Pass to be more careful. If you do catch a bird, please try to remove thee hook before releasing it.
If you need help call the Venice Wildlife Rescue at (941) 484-9657. Like us, they are passionate about helping wildlife.
These great blue herons need to be protected - not abused! Look around before you throw that hook. Catch fish. Not birds.