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Okinawans scramble to help save ailing heron

Date Posted: 2007-12-21

Fishermen, environmentalists and ordinary citizens are all trying to rescue a black face spatula heron who’s gotten his bill tangled in fishing lines, something that could kill the bird.

The bird was first spotted December 6th at the Tomigusuku City Zone playground, where it was resting. The heron has fishing line wrapped around its bill, making it difficult to eat. The Ministry of the Environment, Tomigusuku City and area bird associations have been trying without luck to catch the heron to remove the line.

Officials predict the bird’s inability to feed properly will make it weaker and weaker, and then die. The black face spatula heron, which make Okinawa their winter resting grounds, are an endangered species. The ailing heron was last seen nearly a week ago. A veterinarian says “If we get this bird captured, we will take care of him.” A rocket net specialist in Tokyo was consulted, but he can’t get to Okinawa for a month, and officials here say that will be too late.

The Prefecture Environmental Section speculates the bird was feeding underwater when it got tangled in the fishing line. The spokesman has cautioned fishermen “don’t throw used fishing string in the water, otherwise water birds will try to stick their bills into it underwater.

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