Bolingbrook Firefighters Save Heron Tangled in Fishing Line at Whalon Lake

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BOLINGBROOK, Ill. – Area firefighters came to the aid of a great blue heron entangled in fishing line Wednesday.

The firefighters were already on site conducting annual water rescue training when they were approached by volunteer dragonfly monitors, Jeanne Golec and Sharon Sullivan, seeking help for the distressed bird.

“The firefighter in the swimming gear approached from the water, and the other firefighters were in the boat,” Golec recounted. 

With precise teamwork, the firefighters managed to cut away the fishing line and free the heron. 

“The heron flew away, and he looked perfectly fine,” Golec reported. “It brought a tear to my eye. We were so lucky those guys were there. It was a beautiful great blue heron.”

Firefighter Brandon Trower, a paramedic with 23 years of experience, expressed his appreciation for being able to assist in this unusual rescue. 

“We rescue ducks and goslings in drains, but this blue heron was a new one for me,” said Trower, who also is a paramedic. “We were glad we were able to assist. Animals are unable to call for help, but it worked out perfectly.”

The incident highlights the issue of improperly discarded fishing line at area lakes and rivers. 

The Forest Preserve District of Will County has taken steps to address the problem by installing fishing line recycling tubes at its fishing lakes. Improperly discarded fishing line can have devastating effects on wildlife, often ensnaring their feet, wings, necks, or bodies and leading to injuries or even death.

The Chicago Bird Collision Monitor volunteers have rescued numerous birds this year at Whalon Lake and Hidden Lakes Trout Farm, where fishing line and hooks posed significant threats to the local wildlife.

Cindy Cain, the Forest Preserve’s public information officer, expressed her gratitude for the rescue efforts by Bolingbrook firefighters and volunteers. However, she stressed the importance of preventing such incidents by responsibly disposing of fishing line remnants. Anglers are encouraged to cut the discarded fishing line into small segments of less than 6 inches and dispose of them in monofilament recycling containers or covered trash containers to protect wildlife.

For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.

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