Getting a Map Turtle Off the Hook

They weren’t fishing for turtles,

but that’s exactly what one of Stefan’s group caught on a recent fishing trip in South Elgin’s Blackhawk Park. A map turtle, to be precise, so named for the markings on its shell that look like topography.

When Stefan tried to release the turtle, he realized the fishing line and hook were caught in its mouth. Thankfully, instead of letting the turtle suffer, he brought it to Anderson Humane’s Wildlife Center.

The wildlife team sedated the turtle and tried to remove the hook, but their many attempts were unsuccessful. They needed to get a better look inside their patient, so they called their friends at Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

There, Dr. Sarah discovered there were actually two fishing hooks caught in the poor turtle. “I’m so glad we didn’t remove one and release him thinking everything was fine,” said Ashley Kendall, Director of Wildlife at Anderson Humane.

Surgery was necessary to remove the hooks, and then the wildlife staff at Anderson Humane nursed the turtle back to health, releasing him back to the wild when he was fully recovered.

Ashley said it was an important reminder that fishing line can be deadly for many wild animals. If you do catch anything other than a fish, don’t just cut the line, she said.

“If you are able to easily remove the line from the animal’s mouth, that’s ok,” she said. “But if they’ve swallowed the hook, bring the animal in.” Anderson Humane’s Wildlife Center treats reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, but doesn’t treat fish.

Ashley also advised not to discard fishing line in the wild, saying it can harm turtles, geese, and other animals. “Wildlife get tangled, often causing amputation or even death,” she said.

She and her team were grateful that Stefan did the right thing and brought the map turtle in for treatment. It’s what any good sportsperson should do.

Learn more or contact Anderson Humane’s Wildlife Center.

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