Abandoned fishing gear hurts birds (and people) at Lake Balboa Park in Van Nuys, activists say – Daily News
Balboa Lake Park in Van Nuys is best known for its cherry blossoms, jacaranda trees, and expansive jogging path. The urban park is also a refuge for hundreds of birds, including the Egyptian goose, the wild Muscovy duck and the mute swan.
A group of volunteers who patrol the park fear that will change as the area becomes a popular fishing spot for anglers – some of whom cast their lines, hooks and nets, causing serious injury and even death. death of wild birds.
Volunteers from the Balboa Park Rescue Team report finding birds with fishing gear or a net wrapped around their legs, which prevents them from walking or flying.
“If you think of a duck or geese, they don’t have fingers and there’s no way to get the fishing line out,” said Lisa Levinson, campaign manager for the group In Defense of Animals. “They walk in it and it tangles and gets really tight around their limbs.”
Rescuers find birds with plastic fishing lines wrapped around their legs so tightly that their blood circulation stops, causing the birds to lose their legs.
“There are a lot of one-legged birds out there,” Levinson said.
Volunteers are also filling bags daily with abandoned fishing gear, she added. Just recently, a young girl was injured after a hook pierced her shoe.
“It’s like an endless cycle,” Levinson said. “Something must be done.”
The park is closed during the night hours, from 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and any activity during the night hours is illegal. But Levinson said volunteers frequently see fishermen coming to the park after the sun goes down.
“The tension is building there because the fishermen are getting aggressive,” she said.
More than 6,000 In Defense of Animals supporters have contacted park officials and city officials in recent months, urging them to ban fishing and start an animal protection program in the park, with no response.
“It doesn’t have to happen,” Levinson said. “It only happens because there is no good program for fishermen to pick up their waste. There must be some regulation there.
Representatives for Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, who represents the Van Nuys area, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and Lake Balboa Park did not return a request for comment.
Levinson added that it would be helpful to establish a separate fishing zone or no-fishing zone in the park to limit night fishing.
Mortaza Zaghian, from Granada Hills, said he couldn’t understand why fishermen along the shores weren’t cleaning up after them and pointed to bins a few yards from where he picked up leaves and litter to pick up the fishing line. In his pocket he also carried scissors to cut the lines.
Saving the birds is Zaghian’s mission. It all started a few years ago when he started feeding birds and ducks. But then spotted birds tangled in fishing lines and decided to rescue them.
One recent afternoon, he wheeled a cart full of bird food, picked up fishing lines and nets. He also picked up discarded fishing gear while checking on birds which he resorted to wearing a back brace.
As soon as the birds spotted him, they patiently followed him waiting for him to throw food.
After Zaghian dumped the food, he quickly scanned the area for injured birds. He pointed to those he healed, some with a leg.
“I tell the birds not to come here,” he said, “this is the dirtiest, nastiest park.”