MDC reminds public to pick up trash, not litter when visiting conservation areas

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is reminding visitors to not leave trash behind – especially fishing line -- when visiting conservation areas this winter.

A recent incident involving a ruddy duck entangled in fishing line prompted MDC’s Wildlife Management Biologist Luke Wehmhoff and MDC Resource Management Technician Jamie Wiseman to act quick.

“We had a member of the public come to Otter Slough Headquarters saying there was a duck tangled in something in the corner of the lake,” Wehmhoff said. “Jamie (Wiseman) and I went down there and found a ruddy duck with fishing line wrapped around one wing and its neck.”

He said the duck kept trying to dive and swim away, “but obviously couldn’t.”

“I threw my waders on and caught the bird and grabbed all the fishing line that came with it, including about 15 feet of line, 2 sinkers and a hook,” he said.

Wehmhoff said after he and Wiseman cut the bird free, they examined it for injuries, saw there were none, and let it go. And while the duck was not happy to be held, Wehmhoff said it seemed pleased to be able to swim away after preening for about 10 minutes.

“It’s important to pick up all trash,” he said, “including fishing line.”

A video of the ruddy duck swimming away after being freed from the fishing line can be seen here:

MDC encourages conservation area visitors to please take trash bags for picking up litter and properly disposing of it.