Aug 21 2013


Published by at 6:30 am under Musings & News,Water and Shore

Great egret trapped in high-strength fishing line (photo by John Beatty)

When fishermen and trappers abandon their lines in the water, they hurt unintended victims.  One careless individual nearly killed a great egret in York County, Pennsylvania.

Thanks to John Beatty, Ann Pettigrew, TriState Bird Rescue and a whole host of caring volunteers the bird was saved.  Here's the story in John Beatty's words:

On August 8th 2013 at William Kain Park I noticed an Egret was trailing behind some high-strength fishing line with a hook attached inside of the corner of its mouth. It was later discovered that this line was left behind by someone attempting to catch Snapping Turtles in the lake. I called the Fish & Game Commission and they dispatched out an officer but before he arrived a couple of local York County Parks employees happened to stop by as well. With a coordinated effort they were able to corral this bird into the woods, capture and retrieve it. By another coincidence there happened to be a veterinarian (Ann Pettigrew) of the Leader Heights Animal Hospital out taking photographs and she offered her help to bring the bird back to her office. The hook was removed from the bird's throat and after being treated and nursed back to health it was released on August 18th. It was very nice that they invited me to come and take photos at the release of the bird.

Above, the egret struggles to remove the line but the hook is lodged in his throat.  In fact it has gone through and is protruding from his neck.

Below, county park naturalists Fran Velazquez and Kelsey Frey slogged through mud, water and thorns to catch the bird.  Wrapped in a towel, they are holding its beak (through the towel).  You can see its black feet near Kelsey's gloved left hand.

GREG_rescue_9464685065_c040a60d68_c_rsz_johnbeattyGreat egret captured to rescue it from fishing line (photo by John Beatty)


At Leader Heights Animal Hospital, Dr. Ann Pettigrew removed the hook and heavy-duty string and treated the bird. Then she took it to Tri-State Bird Rescue for rehab.  In only ten days it was healthy and ready for release.

On August 18 everyone turned out to see the bird fly free.  Here Teresa Deckard of Bird Refuge of York County opens the box.

Great egret released (photo by John Beatty)

That's one happy egret!

Thanks to all the good people who made this happy ending possible.

Don't miss John Beatty's beautiful photos of this egret's rescue and release.  Click here or on any of the photos to see the entire story.

(all photos by John Beatty)


p.s. In the Comments I have transcribed Ann Pettigrew's PABIRDS report of this egret's rescue on August 8.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Rescued!”

  1. Kate St. Johnon 21 Aug 2013 at 6:35 am

    Here’s the story of the egret’s rescue and treatment from Ann Pettigrew, VMD.
    Subject: Rescued Great Egret – Lake Redman – York County
    Date: Thu Aug 8 2013 21:01 pm
    From: Ann Pettigrew

    This morning while I was out photographing dragonflies and other stuff a man came up to me to tell me there was an egret that appeared to be tangled in fishing line along the shore of Lake Redman. Two naturalists from one of our county parks came along with a park ranger and after slogging through deep mud they were able to catch the egret when it tried to go into the thickets on the shore. We took it over to the hospital and removed a large hook attached to string (not fishing line) that the bird had swallowed and that subsequently had pierced through its neck so that the hook part was on the outside of its neck while the straight part of the hook along with string was down its throat. Once we cut the hook we were able to remove the rest of the hook and string. We think it was most likely a hook and string used to catch snapping turtles as it was much too large to catch any fish around here.

    Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark, DE, let me take the egret down to them for rehab. Its keel was very prominent so it may have been like this for a while but nobody seems to know for sure. It was fortunate that it was so close to land as I think it would have been very difficult to capture it had it been farther out in the lake. The naturalists, Francis Valesquez and, I believe, Kelly, did a great job handling the egret. I think it will survive and Tri-State is going to have us release it back where we found it. Hopefully, it doesn’t find any more hooks! It made me feel very sorry for snappers as it must be horrific to be caught in such a way. We humans are so barbaric at times!

    Just thought you might like to hear a story that, hopefully, has a happy ending.

    Have a good weekend.


    Ann C. Pettigrew, VMD
    York, PA

  2. Rob Protzon 21 Aug 2013 at 9:06 am

    One happy egret! Kudos to all involved!

  3. Sharon Viel-Heineyon 21 Aug 2013 at 10:28 am

    what a great story of caring people. I wish that people would be more aware of what they leave behind that other wildlife can suffer from. This story warmed my heart and I want to thank all involved for such kindness.

  4. Furry Gnomeon 21 Aug 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Wonderful work. Thanks to you all.

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