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(News-Press.com) - Pine Island environmental watchdog Phil Buchanan sent an email to The News-Press Mailbag this week about one of my pet environmental peeves.

According to Buchanan, irresponsible Floridians do a lot of dumb things that harm wildlife, and the No. 1 dumb thing they do is to leave fishing line in the environment.

In short: Abandoned fishing line kills and maims wildlife.

Every year, thousands of wading and diving birds become entangled in abandoned fishing line and die from drowning, starvation, dehydration or strangulation; sometimes these animals struggle for days before they die.

It goes like this: A fisherman makes a bad cast from his boat and gets hung up in the mangroves; instead of poling, trolling or paddling over to retrieve the line, he cuts it.

Then a bird lands in the mangroves, becomes entangled in the line, and the death struggle begins.

Birds aren't the only victims: Dolphins, manatees and sea turtles become entangled in fishing line, too. Sometimes they die; sometimes they just lose a fin or flipper as the line cuts through their flesh and down to the bone.

To help protect wildlife, Florida adopted a rule in 1992 that states: "No person shall intentionally discard any monofilament fishing line or monofilament netting into or onto the waters of the state."

Sounds like a good deterrent, except:

• Discarding monofilament line into or onto the water is illegal, but leaving it hanging in the mangroves is legal.

• The rule doesn't apply to braided line, which is actually worse for wildlife than monofilament; you can, therefore, legally throw a big ball of braided line into or onto the waters of the state.

Maybe it's time for the state to tweak this rule a little.

In the meantime, you can rack up some wildlife karma points by retrieving your fishing line when you get hung up; and I'm pretty sure you get extra karma points when you pull somebody else's abandoned line out of the environment.

— Compiled by Kevin Lollar

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