At Riverside Park (Selah Gap)

Our TRASH kills wildlife.....

It is a rare treat to see Great White Pelican along the Yakima River this time of year. That is, when they are soaring over the river at 600 feet looking for a meal or just floating a quiet section of the river. Two days ago, I was able to see one fairly close ~ just across the river from the wooden deck at the Riverside/Riverview park in the Selah gap. I had seen one a year ago in May just a hundred yards down stream and watched it for two weeks. This year, however the Pelican I saw was acting rather strange. He/she had its wings outstretched and appeared to be protecting or shielding something. Oh well, I thought maybe it was some sort of mating ritual it was doing to attract a mate?? I went back to the park twice more on that day and the bird was in the same place, same posture on wings had fallen some and were now dragging in the water. My wife was with me this last trip and convinced me to quit worrying about it ~ that nature takes care of its own. I woke up at 3:00 am the next morning worrying about "Pelly". I had decided that it must have its foot caught in the fork of a branch that I could just make-out in a magnified picture I had taken earlier. I went back to bed hoping the bird would survive and waited for daylight. My wife was not too happy a few hours later, when I asked her if she wanted to go with me to free Pelly. She opted not to go, as she did not feel very well. Anyway, I thought i may have to wade out a bit, so I took a rope to tie myself off to a tree. I took my gloves so that I could get hold of his thrashing beak if needed in order to free him. I also to took large towel to cover it's head and a pet carrier to transport it (if need be). Well, that's what they do on TV! Anyway I had to go to HWY 82 and find the approximate place where the bird should be. Just happens that there is a chain link fence all along that stretch, so I have to park further down the road where I found an opening in the fence and walk back. This area is almost not penetrable with fallen trees, deep mud, grasses and mosquitoes. I was beginning to wish I wife had come to wait in the car so she could call the "people rescuers" if I did not return. It just happens to be my 75th Birthday and I'm not ready to go yet. I did fall in a swampy area and had to crawl to a tree for help in standing again. As I got closer, Pelly began trashing his head which was a really good sign for me. About 10 feet form him now, I could see the water was not deep and I could get to him without a problem. I also was able to see the problem; FISHING LINE!!! Pelly had one foot tangled in fishing line with multiple strans wrapped in a semi-submerged branch. Hey! This bird is far larger than they look from a distance. He is becoming VERY stressed and thrashing his beak wildly. I put on the gloves and opted not to try and grab his beak or throw a towel over his head or any of that theatrical stuff. I was able to get a hold of the fishing line and pull him closer to me. I could not see a hook which may have been embedded, but I was able to break the line within a few inches of his leg which freed him from certain death. I was afraid that Pelly my have lost the oils in the feathers which help him float. We were in luck! He floated free and began swimming on his own. First he swam to the middle of the river to get away from me, then he looked back in my direction and we both knew he would be okay. I was thankful that it had enough energy to swim, and the buoyancy to float. I thanked the good Lord for letting me rescue one of His beautiful creatures and left the rest to Him. This story is not about the rescue; rather it is a MESSAGE TO THE SPORTSMEN, CAMPERS, & USERS OF OUR ENVIRONMENT. FISHERMEN! NEVER DISCARD YOU OLD LINE - TAKE IT WITH YOU. EVERYONE, PACK IT OUT, DO NOT LITTER! *** YOUR TRASH MAY BE ANOTHER'S DEATH SENTENCE ***

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Dreama Givson says ... on Wednesday, Jun 6 at 5:44 AM

I love the parks in Washington and the beauty. When we go fishing I bring back wads of fishing line Tangled and left! People don't leave it take It with you and throw it where animals won't Become tangled in this. If you see it pick it Up .

Laura Lee says ... on Monday, Jun 4 at 4:49 PM

What a great story and message! Mr Higbee, you are my hero! I love anyone that loves the Lord and has a soft spot for wildlife/animals. Your beautiful daughter's friend..........Lauralee

Karen Messina says ... on Monday, Jun 4 at 1:05 PM

Awesome story. The hero that saved the bird is my dad! Great job dad!!!!!!!!! Thanks for loving wildlife. I would have worried about that poor bird too....

BoydHigbee says ... on Monday, Jun 4 at 12:51 PM

A wonderful bird is a PELICAN; His beak can hold more than his BELLYCAN; Enough food in his beak, he can hold for a WEEK; I don't know how the HELLYCAN... Don't remember where we heard that, but my kids have never forgotten.

BoydHigbee says ... on Monday, Jun 4 at 12:45 PM

Drove up the Yakima River canyon Sunday afternoon to see if I could see any White Pelicans, but did not see any. Maybe it's getting a little late in the season? They are beautiful! and graceful too.

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