Rowley rescues wild birds

Wild bird rescue 3I’m delighted that Wild Bird Rescues GOLD COAST is now a member of the Gold Coast Catchments Association. WBR is a volunteer bird rescue organisation, run by myself, Rowley Goonan, with a committee to oversee donations.

WBR specialises in catching ‘flight capable’ birds. Typically these are birds that have become hooked or entangled in fishing line. Often it’s both. Catching a flight capable bird presents a unique challenge because they are able to fly away from a rescuer at any time.

The abundant waterways and the popularity of fishing on the Gold Coast mean that hookings and entanglements of waterbirds is a common occurrence. In fact it’s a huge problem. Last year I attended more than 90 rescues for swans alone. Nearly half had a fishing related injury. I think most people would agree that is a ridiculously high number, especially as the entire Gold Coast population of swans probably isn’t much more than 300 birds.

Wild bird rescue 1Last year I also attended to 55 pelicans and 77 ibis, plus a dozen other species of birds. Most were suffering from a fishing related injury. Not all could be caught and saved but the majority got help and were ultimately released back where they were caught. In many cases Currumbin Wildlife Hospital played a major role by providing veterinary care and rehabilitation.

From the above statistics you can see why WBR has such a keen interest in keeping Gold Coast waterways and its surrounds clean of debris and especially discarded fishing line and hooks.

As part of my efforts to reduce the number of hooked and entangled birds I’ve identified three key areas that need to change.

  • Casting out fishing lines into Gold Coast canals and then leaving those lines unattended results in dozens of waterbirds getting hooked or entangled every year.
  • Carelessly dropping offcuts of fishing line on the ground (instead of putting them in the bin) can easily entangle birds that walks through that line.
  • Fishers need to be aware that rescue services are available if they hook a bird. They should call for help immediately, rather than cutting the bird free, which unfortunately is what most do.

Fisheries QLD (Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries) agree these issues need to be addressed and are formulating a plan for education. This is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough. It is my intention to pursue changes in law that would prohibit fishers from casting out a fishing line and then leaving it unattended. This unnecessary form of fishing results in dozens of water birds getting hooked every year.

Wild bird rescue 2Please visit to find a wealth of information about native birds. Pictures and videos are also available at Wild Bird Rescues GOLD COAST Facebook.


President Wild Bird Rescues GOLD COAST
0438-823100, 6am-9pm, 7 days a week.