HELENA — The signs are pretty clear at Spring Meadow Lake in Helena, people must properly dispose of fishing line. But the very visible and abundant fishing line recycling tubes apparently aren’t stopping discarded lines from becoming a big problem.
“So, I mean, there’s all kinds of issues," FWP Aquatic Education Coordinator Jessie Gudgel told MTN. "We’ve got, obviously it’s a great spot for birding, it’s a great spot for waterfowl, it’s a great spot for, you know, all kinds of aquatic animals, terrestrial animals. When you got fishing line, particularly monofilament, but all the fishing lines laying around."
Fishing line is easy to lose track of, especially if you are fishing with a first-time angler like a child. But when some line blows off the dock it can really wreak some havoc.
"We’ve got birds that use it to make nests and then they get tangled, and I’m sure everybody’s seen the osprey nests with twine, same kind of issue here with the fishing line with things," said Gudgel. "You’ll catch fish with line hooked into them, they can get an infection. There is a lot of waterfowl, almost every year there are some waterfowl out here that people report. I’ve got a goose foot that has embedded line in it and grown around it. So all kinds of abscesses and things like that.”
Wildlife aside, the lost line is also screwing up basic park maintenance.
“That fishing line tends to get tangled and a lot of the time the kids don’t know when they tangle that monofilament, what they need to do with that. A lot of the time it ends up in the grass, or in the trees or in the bushes, and not in their pockets or one of these monofilament recycling bins. And when that happens it's not just a problem for us, it costs us a lot of money in wheel bearings, replacing wheel bearings on our lawn mowers," FWP Helena Area Rec Manager Craig Putchat told MTN. "It gets tangled up in the machinery we use to sweep the goose poop off the lawn. It gets tangled up in the lawn mower blades every time we go to cut the grass.”
Not to mention, line along with other garbage is an eyesore in a place that is supposed to be a natural escape for so many in Helena.
"There is just, I mean just trash in general," sighed Gudgel. "Nobody wants to see it. We’ve got, I mean I’m looking down right now and there is Styrofoam worm holders and they are just in there. Now everybody has to look at them when they come down until one of us can fish it out. It’s unsightly, not good for the environment.”