DNR Biologist Advises: Don’t discard your fishing line, recycle instead

News Release Published: June 1, 2009 by the South Central Region

Contact(s): Becky Roth, Wildlife Biologist, Spring Green: 608-588-3432

SPRING GREEN – Have you ever snagged your fishing line in a tree or weeds? Changed the line along the shore? How about getting a knot in your line that you cannot undo so you cut the line? Most of us who fish have encountered these scenarios. The important thing is what you do next with that fishing line, points out Becky Roth, Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife biologist based at Spring Green.

“Picking up fishing line along the Wisconsin River can be a chore. After collecting it on almost every trip to the river and seeing wildlife snarled up in it, an investigation into the impact discarded fishing line has on the environment was under way. I drove back to the office and started doing some research,” recalls Ms. Roth.

What the biologist discovered is that monofilament fishing line can last in the environment for over 600 years and “that’s a lot of time for fish and wildlife to possibly encounter it,” she notes.

Fishing line can harm fish and wildlife in several ways. Birds, including waterfowl, and mammals can get wrapped up in it. This can cause them to drown or prevent them from moving to find food and shelter, making them vulnerable. Fishing line is not digestible, so if an animal were to eat it, it would not be able to consume other food and could end up starving to death.

“This was all depressing news until I came upon a recycling program. Some people may already be aware of this, but I was not and neither were some of my fishing buddies,” according to the biologist.

The Berkeley Company of Spirit Lake, IA, provides prepaid recycling boxes for bait shops so people can discard their line. Other states provide collective tubes for line at popular fishing spots and boat landings. They recycle the line to make several products including tackle boxes and also make structures out of the material to put back into the water to create fish habitat.

Ms. Roth talked to the Berkeley folks and will soon be receiving a recycling box for her office for those trips to the river. “If you would like to recycle your line, please contact me. Also, please remember that 600 years is a long time,” she adds.

Becky can be reached at her Tower Hill State Park office, 5808 CTH C, Spring Green, 588-3432 or at Rebecca.roth@wisconsin.gov.


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