Cap Coast fishers told to clean up after themselves
From The Capricorn Coast Mirror
IF PELICANS could talk, there are good reasons to suppose they'd join other seabirds and wildlife in pleading with Capricorn Coast fishers: Don't leave your mess lying around.
Pelicans are popular with tourists and visitors to the Capricorn Coast region.
But when fishers fail to clean up after themselves - leaving behind hooks, lines, crab pots and other debris - they create lethal hazards for pelicans, other birds and wildlife.
Wildlife Rockhampton - which cares for sick and injured wildlife in Livingstone Shire and the Rockhampton region - recently took a pelican into care.
Among other injuries, the membrane at the bottom of her large beak was torn - probably by a fishhook - making it impossible for her to eat. She was also unable to fly.
Carer Svetlana Jones has been looking after Pelly around the clock, trying to nurse the distressed, dehydrated and hungry bird.
Pelicans must eat 20% of their own bodyweight each day. Pelly was eating up to 1.5kg of fish a day.
Ms Jones and friends took to fishing all night after approaches to local fishermen for donations of fish proved fruitless. "Pelicans are pests," they were told.
"We only caught a few bait, half a dozen prawns, one salmon and one catfish," she said.
Meanwhile, a course of antibiotics to fight infection and treat parasites has cost the group $70.
Wildlife Rockhampton is appealing for ongoing donations - either in funds or in materials that can help them care for what comes their way.
"But the message really should be to all fishermen and the general public - clean up your mess," Ms Jones said.
"Don't leave fishing lines and hooks behind and, if you see a pelican in trouble, please report it to Wildlife Rockhampton or the RSPCA as soon as possible."
As a result of the Pelly incident, Wildlife Rockhampton has agreed to work with Pelican and Seabird Rescue to train local volunteers to care for seabirds - including shearwaters, which Ms Jones said, had "dropped in astronomical proportions on the Capricorn Coast last year".
Meanwhile, she is looking forward with mixed feelings to the eventual release of the pelican that has been her constant companion for almost a fortnight and with whom she has formed a two-way bond. "She's smart, friendly and obedient," Ms Jones said.
"I will be happy to see Pelly flying free - but I will miss her," she said.
Inquiries to 0429 469 453 (0429 GO WILD) or visit the website wildliferockhampton.org.au.