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Florida Firefighters Get Creative to Rescue Pelican Trapped by Fishing Line in Mid-Air [Photos]

Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue
The pelican was trapped in mid-air upside down entangled with a tree and a fishing line. Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue

Naples, Florida firefighters encountered an unusual animal rescue on Sunday morning. Just after 8:30am, 911 calls reported a pelican hanging from an Australian Pine tree, the Naples Fire Rescue reports. Engine 2 arrived to find the pelican hanging about 40 feet in the air tangled in a fishing line. Due to the height and surrounding vegetation, crews lashed four pike poles together to try to reach the fishing line with a knife to cut it. The bird was over the beach, so there was no aerial access.

Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue
Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue

Additionally, a 35-foot extension ladder was lifted into place under the pelican and extended. To stabilize the ladder, crews used a 1/2″ working line from the top of the ladder wrapped around the tree trunk, allowing the ladder to be leaned toward the bird while a firefighter climbed the ladder approximately five runs in order to reach the tip of the pike pole over the pelican to the fishing line.

The assembled length of the pike poles was close to 35 feet. With the firefighter lifting the pike pole into place, three other firefighters secured the based of the ladder. Webbing tied toward the top of the pike poles helped guide and stabilize the assembly while a rope secured to the ladder tip created the angle needed to reach the fishing line.

 Photo Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue
Photo Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue

“Eventually the team work paid off,” Battalion Chief Michael D. Nichols said in his incident report. With a combination of firefighters spotting each other and timing of the wind, crews were able to grab the fishing line and break it, freeing the Pelican. The duration of the incident from arrival to completion was about 90 minutes.

Once on the ground, the bird was wrapped in a towel by staff from a conservancy and was taken for rehabilitation. Approximately 50 onlookers gathered to watch from a safe distance.

“When the bird was freed from the fishing line there was a round of applause with many people taking the time to come up the beach to thank us for the effort,” Nichols reported.

Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue
Courtesy Naples Fire Rescue

Congrats to the Naples firefighters for a job well done and to Chief Stephen R. McInerny II for sharing the story and photos with us. Check out the Naples Fire-Rescue Department online here.

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