Health Predators hooked on free fish

Predators hooked on free fish

Recreational fishers have been tackling birds of prey on the Gold Coast, with a new study showing fishing leftovers are the deadliest threat facing the animals in the area.

A team from Griffith University and Charles Darwin University analysed data on four types of coastal raptor arriving injured at the Gold Coast’s Currumbin Wildlife Hospital over the past 22 years: the White-Bellied Sea-Eagle; Eastern Osprey; Brahminy Kite and the Whistling Kite.

The study’s lead author, Vicky Thomson, a PhD candidate at Griffith’s Environmental Futures Research Centre, said the four species faced a host of threats, both human-made and natural, including car strikes and attacks from other urban birds.

But she says the researchers were surprised to find that fishing equipment entanglement was the most identifiable threat in this part of the country.

“The Gold Coast has the highest rates of discarded fishing equipment in Australia,” Ms Thomson said.

“While vehicle strikes, building collisions, and even electrocution by powerlines are common in an urban environment, most people don’t think about the devastating impact the waste from their fishing trip can have on birds of prey.”

“My co-authors and I have seen these charismatic birds of prey actually seek people out for food!”

“They quickly learn where to go to get a free feed, however, remain oblivious of the consequences, becoming entangled in fishing line and impaled by discarded hooks,” Ms Thomson said.

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