WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Have you seen this heron? Plus, a plea

(Photo courtesy Dina F)

West Seattle-based wildlife biologist Kersti Muul is asking Lincoln Park-area visitors to watch for a possibly injured Great Blue Heron. She explains that it got tangled in fishing line:

The heron got caught up in a live line (active fisher). He reeled it in and untangled it. The combat fishing affords no room for wildlife. It also attracts a high number of species (gulls and other water birds, seals, sea lions, crows, and other scavenging sea life) that are at high risk of getting snagged and/or entangled.

The amount of derelict gear and trash down there is astonishing. A lot of snagging going on, especially when people cast into the kelp beds. They will often just cut the line; which means the remaining line with hook and lead weights or lures is in the water. *Lead poisoning is a risk to eagles and loons* both of which frequent the area.

Overall, she says, not just people fishing, but everyone visiting Lincoln Park – including those drawn to see the newly installed troll – needs to help protect wildlife:

I plead to Fisher-people and park visitors to be more aware of their impact, pack out their trash, mind their feet on fragile beach ecosystems… Also, seems like a good time to bring this up. Folks have been stripping the sea spray roses of their rosehips, and taking large amounts of driftwood off of the beach. This is illegal, unethical and destructive to the ecosystem and the species that rely upon these habitats.

Meantime, to try to reduce the risk from fishing line, Kersti also says:

I’m having a derelict fishing gear container installed at Pt. Williams soon. It’s a WDFW container that I will have a maintenance contract with. Others will be going in along Alki. I also do a post-pink season snorkel to look for derelict fishing gear.

Kersti has dealt with other wildlife that suffered injuries from stray fishing line/gear:

That gull eventually lost one of the legs that got bound together as shown in the photo. P.S. If you see the heron, she says, “Even if it’s flighted and ‘seems’ OK, I’d like to visually assess it just in case.” (Kersti’s at kersti.e.muul [at] gmail.com)

19 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Have you seen this heron? Plus, a plea"

  • Raye September 11, 2023 (11:15 pm)

    Thank you, Kersti. This is so important!

  • Humpy September 11, 2023 (11:39 pm)

    I’ve walked or biked down there daily and have not observed the scene described.  The fishing appears legal, extremely popular and attracts many people not typically at the park.  I’ve witnessed Fish and Game Wardens checking gear and licenses. I never saw any illegal snagging as the shore casting is not an intentional snagging technique.  All of the pinks I witnessed landed were mouth hooked.  I did not see an astonishing amount of trash or derelict gear.  I think we need to realize that the park is for all and pink fishing is a part that occurs every other year.  The worst offenders of our beach environment continues to be people with dogs. I do not fish. 

    • Patrick H. September 12, 2023 (7:54 am)

      What’s being discussed in this post is snagging on the bottom, logs, kelp, and other natural features of the near shore; not snagging the fish. I can see how those could be mixed up though. When fishing line is cut free from the pole and then left in the water, it can easily wrap around animals, such as the pictured gull who was likely just paddling by.Having to cut gear free is an almost inevitable part of fishing (I say as a regular fisherman myself) so if we can be more mindful to reduce our snags in the first place, then be responsible about cleaning up the gear after we snag, we can reduce the harm our activities induce.

    • Pink September 12, 2023 (8:26 am)

      Trash is a problem. But every time I’ve been down there people were fishing like you’re supposed to fish for pinks. All the fish were snagged…. in the mouth. Kinda hard to snag pinks in the sound; it’s not a river. 

    • SlimJim September 12, 2023 (8:51 am)

      I think by snagging she’s referring to people getting their line stuck in debris, not people trying to “snag” a fish. I’ve done the former, but not the latter.Broken line can easily be in the water without being visible. Whether it’s an astonishing amount is just terminology. Even a little bit of broken line is a hazard.

  • MK September 12, 2023 (5:53 am)

    I was in the area of fishermen on Saturday evening.  The beach was lined with fisherman and I heard a seagull screaming as it was tangled in a fishing line. Someone reeled the bird in and freed it from the line. It flew away but now I wonder if the bird was able to recover. 

  • Query September 12, 2023 (6:15 am)

    I had not heard that removing driftwood from the beach was illegal or disruptive to wildlife. Can anyone point me to more information on this so I can learn?

    • Hiumpy September 12, 2023 (11:43 am)

      Generally we are not allowed to take anything from our parks and public beaches including shells, beach stones and driftwood which are all considered beach features.—–As outlined in the Seattle Municipal Code 18.12.070:It is unlawful for any person except a duly authorized Department of Parks and Recreation or other City employee in the performance of his or her duties, or other person duly authorized, to remove, destroy, mutilate or deface any structure, lawn, monument, statue, planter, vase, fountain, wall, fence, railing, vehicle, bench, shrub, tree, geological formation, plant, flower, lighting system, sprinkling system, gate, barricade or lock or other property lawfully in any park, or to remove sand, soil, sod, or water from any park.Please leave plants, artifacts, flowers, and features for everyone to enjoy!

    • datamuse September 12, 2023 (1:54 pm)

      Look up Seattle Municipal Code 18.12.070 for the relevant statute; it’s not allowed to remove pretty much anything from a park, aside from trash or stuff you brought with you. As far as why it should be done judiciously if at all even in places where it’s legal, here’s a pretty thorough discussion: https://hakaimagazine.com/features/the-trees-that-sail-to-sea/

  • CB September 12, 2023 (6:33 am)

    What is a sea spray rose? 

  • anonyme September 12, 2023 (6:50 am)

    I went down to see the troll a few weeks ago and was horrified to see the number of human-made driftwood structures on the beach. one the size of a tiny house.  They are not only unsightly, they destroy habitat on the beach.  I wrote to Parks, and this is a partial reply: “




    /* Style Definitions */
    {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
    mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
    mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;

    are welcome to dismantle them should you see them as well, or submit a ticket
    to the Find It, Fix It app if any that look like a danger to parks goers
    “.  I wrote back saying that I did not think it was the responsibility of a 72-year-old woman to do the Parks Dept. job for them.  It’s bad enough that off-leash dogs are everywhere in the park, but that human behavior and responsibility have degenerated to such a degree that they must destroy everything.  Several years ago I witnessed a dog on the beach swim out, attack, and kill a young cormorant.  Our parks, beaches, and wildlife need protection, not dismissal and neglect by the agencies paid to do so.

    • junctioneer September 12, 2023 (1:21 pm)

      Yeah, let’s get the kids to stop playing with driftwood and back to video games where they don’t destroy everything!

      • Tune September 12, 2023 (3:08 pm)

        These are more then just a “fort” they are huge unstable/unsafe structures first created by an adult as some sort of “art”…they are what is called a attractive nuisance that can collapse and harm someone or worse. The city will then be liable to the tune of millions of dollars! Hopefully this never happens! There are similar “forts” in the upper park also.

  • Pdavis September 12, 2023 (8:48 am)

    THANK  YOU for making people more aware of the hazards of fishing line. It’s very real and true, and I have seen many birds tangled up in it over the years and the feet in tangled and having the foot die.    There is a container near marination and the fishing pier that is designated for fishing line. Regretfully idiots put their trash in there and fill it up with garbage.  I personally remove the garbage over and over and place it in a trashcan one mere foot away…. there are other products that also entangle birds, such as yard trellis material, dental floss, and anything that is thin and difficult to break down/decompose.  Please be alert and know that these are very real and true hazards..  and yes, you are correct, that we are stewards of this planet. I need to be extremely careful and diligent about our impact on wildlife and the environment…. thank you for bringing this up

  • Craig September 12, 2023 (9:51 am)

    From what I can see the pic of the Gull it is caught by common string, not fishing line, but I get the point and agree that all trash should be removed from fishing areas. The fishers at Linclon are a good bunch generally and I’ve seen them pack out trash and line due to respect for the wildlife, but we can never be too vigilant. Generally when there’s a seal or bird in the path of a cast the casting stops until it is clear again (no fisher wants to hook a bird, lose their lure, or a chance at a Salmon) but accidents happen. Also, thanks all for the clarification on snagging as a fishing technique vs snagging on a submerged log. All of us ethical fishers at Lincoln hate  catching fish via snagging as a technique so it’s a trigger topic for us. Note is a river technique mostly seen on the Duwamish/Green. Yesterday while fishing Linclon a guy was walking under (!) the entire casting line in chest deep in the water diving down collecting lures (aka pink buzz bombs) to resell. Win win for him and the animals. 

  • tw September 12, 2023 (10:23 am)

    Assuming it’s our resident heron… I saw it on the 5th and it did not seem injured then. (Lowman Beach resident)

  • Maggie September 12, 2023 (11:12 am)

    The number of trees that have come down in Lincoln Park over the past two years is heartbreaking. Many don’t know that the troll’s hair is made up of trees that came down in the area of the picnic tables. From daily walks the crowds and trash are obvious and recently another tree came down near the northern parking area. I wish the Parks Dept would have taken the health of the park into account when it green lighted a project that attracts thousands of additional visitors. Better yet, they should be focused on Lincoln Park to create a plan to restore the trees and park not create further stressors. Kersti is right to be concerned. I wish more people were. 

  • SLJ September 12, 2023 (11:31 am)

    I actually like the driftwood structures. The kids have a great time and they eventually fall down again. It’s typically smaller pieces that would move around in the tide or wind anyway, so it’s probably not damaging a particular habitat. I can see the concern with removing the large logs, but making a fort on the beach seems like harmless fun. Maybe I’m wrong, but there are much bigger issues like all the dogs on the beach.

    • Tune September 12, 2023 (3:13 pm)

      Sorry I think you are wrong please see my previous post…the problem here is that it is not your park and you cannot do whatever you want to it! 

Sorry, comment time is over.