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Hey, Im Griff. This is the accompanying blog to the the Griff’s Wild Tips video, titled Save Wildlife, Pick up Fishing Line. In each episode of Griff’s Wild Tips, I will show you something that you can do to help wildlife and their habitats (aka homes). In this episode, I explain the dangers posed to wildlife by littered fishing line and show you what you can do about it. It’s simple. Whenever you see discarded fishing line pick it up, cut it up, and pack it out. But one person cannot do it all alone, that’s why I encourage you to organize a fishing line cleanup event. It could be a with your family, a group of friends, or you could go big and organize a volunteer event and invite people from your community.

Several years ago, my California Conservation Corps (CCC) crew and I found a western grebe entangled in fishing line on the shore of Lake Mendocino. The line had already dug deeply into the bird’s flesh and caused life-threatening damage. We had to help it. The closest wildlife rehabilitation center was almost two-hours drive away, so we called a few local vets until we found one who would take it. Since then, I take CCC members to the same spot where we found the bird and we pick up discarded fishing line.

In this Griff’s Wild Tips episode, I’m going give you some 8 pointers to help you successfully implement a fishing line cleanup effort with a small group of friends, or a large group of volunteers.

Remember that if you organize any cleanup event, try to make it fun as possible. The more fun, the more likely that people will return to do it again. There are a lot of ways to make a fishing line cleanup fun. Before, after, or during the cleanup you can take a swim break, dance break, or fishing break. You can use your iNaturalist ap to document what organisms you discover in the area. You can have a rock skipping contest. You can play a game of ninja pose, or you can even teach everyone how to do the nature-celebrating BioBlitz Dance!

Just get out there and do it! Discarded fishing line kills and we need to pick it up! And the more we pick up, the less suffering wildlife will have to endure. Here’s some other things you should consider while conducting a fishing line cleanup event with a group of people.

  1. First off have a safety meeting. Below are some safety considerations and links to more information. Keep in mind that each site and group will have its own safety challenges, considerations, and strategies.
  • Identify anyone who cannot swim and assign them to a territory not directly near deep water.
  • Take ten minutes or so to teach the reach, wade, throw, row method of saving a drowning victim.
  • Remind folks to wear leather gloves due to rusty hooks. Recommend that they also have an updated tetanus shot before participating.
  • Bring at least one throw rope and demonstrate its proper use.

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  • Make sure everyone practices the buddy system and stays in their team’s designated territory.
  • Identify the nearest hospital to the group. And take note of whether or not you have reception in the case that you have to call 911.
  • If you are at a public park, you may want to let the managing agency know what you’re doing. They may be able to provide trash bags and safety support.
  • Consider inviting a life guard to your event if necessary.
  1. Depending on your group, the cleanup may be more fun if you made it competitive by splitting up the volunteers into teams. This will also have the added benefit of motivating folks to stay on task and be more productive.
  2.  Before the teams start, share some grim pictures of wildlife entanglements. Remind them of how important this task is. Thank them for being compassionate enough to help. April Washington 2 (2)
  3. Identify each team’s territory, let them know the allotted time for the cleanup and say, “Go!”
  4. Get permission to photograph and video a few participants picking up the line, interview some of the volunteers, and post the pics and videos to social media with the hashtag #GriffsWildTips and #PickUpFishingLine
  5. At the end of the event, gather up the teams and thank them for their participation and remind them that what they did prevented a lot of suffering.
  6. Have them pile their line in front of their group and appoint a judge to decide who gathered the most.
  7. While they are waiting to hear who the winning team is, let them know where the closest wildlife care center in case they ever find an entangled or hooked animal. Remind them that the care centers rely on volunteers and donations, so anything they can contribute to their local wildlife care center would be greatly appreciated. For an online directory of wildlife care centers, click here.

If you pick up fishing line on your own, with friends, your family, or a group of volunteers, please take photos, upload them to social media and tag me by using the hashtag #GriffsWildTips

Subscribe to my channel to see more Griff’s Wild Tips and the occasional dance video. And please share Griff’s Wild Tips videos often. Did you see the last one titled, How to Make Seed Bombs? It’s going to take a lot more of us who care about our finned, furred, feathered, and scaled neighbors to take actions (big and small) to save their habitat (homes).

Katelyn Rose Garcia