~  Pierheads's ~
Goleta Pier Log

PFIC Get-Together, Goleta Pier,  July 2003.  Photo credit:  Rich Reano, webmaster,  www.pierfishing.com
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Volunteer Time:
2006 (total):    103 days, 169 hours
2007 (to date):   76 days, 103.60 hours
March 2nd, 2007:  Below is an example of a double hook dropper loop rig discarded on
the pier last night. Notice the baited hooks and try not to imagine the consequence for the hungry seabird that finds this set up.

Already this year I have had to rescue one gull that had swallowed a hook and had the other end of the line snag on the deck ... flopping on the pier for who knows how long before I found it in the morning.

Also found the dumpsters overflowing again this morning ... 

... this time I was able to get a close up shot of typical table scrapings that end up on the pier either in the form of excessive guano or regurgitated castings. 

In the upper right hand of the photo you can see a tear where the birds started to open up the plastic bag. Food waste like this should be double bagged especially if the dumpster is already overflowing.

March 3rd, 2007: 

More problems overnight at the end of the pier. First problem was a pigeon found 
flopping near the railing hooked through the wing with the other end of the line snagged underneath the pier. Startled by my presence the bird managed to break or pull the line free and fly away. 

Then I notice another line tied to the railing above where the pigeon was and left in the water overnight. I find one or more of these handiness almost every morning now. From the amateurish construction and inappropriate line weight and hook sizes I would assume whoever put it together was not an experienced angler.

In the same location I discovered that the newly installed recycling bin for discarded fishing line had had most of its bolts removed and was dangling from the railing. I contacted the organization that donated the bin and suggested it be remounted with lag bolts which are harder to remove. I was told the County had specified through bolting instead of lag bolts.

Purchased new stainless steel bolts and washers and reinstalled the bin. Tightened down all the bolts on both bins extra tight.

And lastly but not least ... 
the end bench on the left was tagged again making this the fourth time since December that this bench has been hit. 

I'm documenting the history of this bench to demonstrate what happens when initial graffiti is not removed promptly. 

Perhaps the bench and railing across from it should also be included. That area has become the favorite of those who carry large knives and fancy themselves having a talent for woodcarving.

March 4th, 2007: 

Speaking of the other bench .... noticed a large pile of torn up cardboard under the 'woodcarver's bench' this morning.  When I removed it I found it was concealing a serious arson attempt. This is the same area involved in last year's fish mutilation incident

I asked the Park to report it both the Police and the Fire Department. A watch commander or supervisor from Goleta PD met with the Park staff at the foot of the pier. He declined to accompany the rangers out to where the fire had been nor did he provide an incident report number. 

It is evident that we are dealing with a seriously ill individual and I am at a total loss as to why the local police are not taking these incidents more seriously.

As if that weren't bad enough we received a visit from Old Town last night as well ... just to remind us that they hadn't been around in a while. Thanks guys for showing your respect for the pier ... 

Since the responding officer didn't view the tagging in person, though he had been told about it by Park staff, it is highly unlikely that he will mention it in an incident report even if one is written. 

As I discovered in a previous situation without a written incident report there can be no referral to the gang unit for follow up.  He did reiterate the Department's promise to begin patrolling the pier on weekends though or so I was told.

Nothing new there ... that's been the response since last October and before. We have yet to see any evidence that these promised 'patrols' consist of anything more than just a drive through of the parking lot.  What is really needed is for the officers to get out of their cars and actually walk the pier as a deterrent. 


Later:  Looking at the above photograph I can see that the letters W and E have already been crossed out ... that was not done by Old Town but as a show of defiance by another gang. I wonder if the attempt to burn the bench was part of that defiance as well and does this mean more gang fights on the pier again?

Still later:  The crossed out W was done by Santa Barbara's Westside Gang and the E by the Eastside Gang. On March 14th it came to a head between the two gangs and resulted in a gang fight and killing in downtown SB in broad daylight. 

March 5th, 2007:  Another pigeon rescued ... while talking with friends this morning we noticed this bird dangling underneath the pier suspended from a fishing line. 

Luckily one of the local anglers was willing to climb over the railing down to where the bird was attached.  He positioned a net underneath the bird to catch it in case it fell ... pigeons aren't waterproof like many birds and will drown if they end up in the water. 

Meanwhile another angler sprawled on the deck in order to reach down and hold the bird with one hand while cutting it free with the other. 

Eventually the bird was brought up on deck where the rest of the line was removed and the bird inspected for damage. Apparently it was only entangled and not hooked.  After a few minutes of preening it trotted off down the pier.

Once again the culprit was a hand line rig left in the water overnight. In many countries this is a standard practice among subsistence fisherman but such unattended lines have been illegal in this country for years.



March 6th, 2007:  Behind the church next to the local public library is a two level parking lot.  The upper lot is used by those of us with larger vehicles when using library services because the library's own lot is narrow and often congested. 

In my case it is easier and safer for all concerned if I don't park my 23' motorhome in the library's parking lot even when it is not crowded. 

This afternoon while I was parked there doing research for the Pier Log a police cruiser drove through the lot and then backed up to my vehicle. An officer I recognized from my work at the pier approached my door and explained that there had been problems the previous day and the neighbor's had asked the PD to check on things.

He wanted to know what I was doing in the lot.  When I said I was using the library for research he wanted to know what I was researching.  I showed him a book recently checked out from the local branch on pigeons and explained that I was researching ways to mitigate pigeon dung on the pier.

He then asked me if I was K. B. G. (my full legal name) which was weird because I knew he knew me already from a previous contact where he had asked for my ID. Confused I acknowledged that I was. Then he asked me for my driver's license ... and began telling me that I was parked illegally in the Church's lot. 

I explained that I understood that the library contracts with the church to use
the lot for its overflow patrons and asked if he had seen the parking sign on his way into the lot. 

He never acknowledged seeing it but began questioning my right to use the lot saying the library's lot wasn't full (at the moment). I explained that many patrons with oversize vehicles use this alternative lot as it is safer. 

He dropped that subject without ever clarifying whether or not I was legally parked.  Making a subtle reference to our previous contact he asked if we were having any more problems with illegal fireworks on the pier. So I brought him up to date about the recent arson and graffiti. Surprisingly he had not heard a thing about it ... 

During this entire conversation he had kept his hand firmly on the handle of my partially opened door even though it was clear I only intended to open it enough to talk with him. I had to maintain constant pressure to keep him from opening it further which would have caused me to lose my balance. 

Needless to say I felt completely intimidated ... just like the last time. I had hoped that my introducing myself to the watch commander/supervisor on January 30th of this year following the last incident and explaining my purpose for being in the area would be helpful. Apparently not.

March 7th, 2007:   I've been reading a fascinating book for the past week and was planning on writing about it in some detail when finished.  Yesterday's events introduced it already so I may as well get into it a bit here. On the jacket is this blurb:

If there ever was a creature that was due a revisionist assessment it is the pigeon. Andrew Blechman's wonderful book gives the lowly bird its due, but along the way reveals as much about humans as the pigeons themselves.  In so doing, he has written one of those rare and magical books that cause the readers to see the world differently.

-Warren St. John 
The author makes liberal use of the work of Swiss biologist and author, Daniel Hagg-Wackernagel, who has extensively studied feral pigeon populations and the attempts to regulate them in an urban setting. 

DH-W explores many of the variables that give rise to excessive and unhealthy flocks and has determined that the amount of available food is indirectly responsible for flock size ... pigeons can breed up to six times a year but only if they are relieved from having to actively forage for food. Its a matter of time ... not amount of protein.

In urban environments pigeons can meet their daily nutritional requirements quite easily even without those dedicated individuals who devote their lives to insuring that 'no pigeon goes unfed'.  However, overfeeding leads to overpopulation and overcrowding of roosting sites.  The resulting physical stress reduces the flock's resistance to sickness and disease.

It was learned through controlled studies that simply reducing the flock through mechanical means (shooting, poisoning) without reducing the food supply was ineffective.  The thinned flock, eating better than ever, soon comes back stronger then ever.

Relocating the birds is another ineffective tactic ... pigeons are noted for their homing ability and are not long in reappearing at their former location. 

DH-W recommends a three-prong approach to reduce populations and hence excessive guano production at a particular location:

1. Extensive public education campaign to control access to feed 
including identifying sources of unsecured garbage and targeting individuals who are 'compulsive feeders'.

2. Establish dovecotes (bird houses) away from the area so that bird
lovers will have a place to feed and care for a smaller, healthier 
flock. Flock size can be additionally controlled by substituting artificial eggs for nest eggs.

3. Screen off access to the former nesting sites.

Here at Goleta we have had some success with his first tactic. Both the park
and restaurant are now cooperating in securing garbage cans and dumpsters. 
As I indicated earlier that has reduced the guano deposition considerably. 
The broadcast of avian distress signals were also employed to good effect in relocating the cormorant population.

Regarding our own resident 'compulsive feeders' ... there are anti-feeding signs both in the parking lot and on the pier but there is little enthusiasm for enforcement without being able to redirect their energies (see point two). 

I hope to be able to get some funding this year to mount an educational display in the east lot alerting bird feeders and onlookers to the fact that what they are doing is NOT in the best interests of the birds and to suggest that they get involved with local animal rescue groups and/or confine their feeding activities to another park or the bird refuge in Santa Barbara.

I am also looking into custom made automobile windshield shades imprinted with a similar ecological message ...  would be popular with those of us who spend our days at the beach since we also need to keep our vehicles cool.  Four or five RV's in the back row facing forward with 'message' shades in place should at least make the non-compulsive feeders uncomfortable enough to go elsewhere. 

The most difficult guano deposits to clean are those from birds who have been eating processed flour products ... bread, donuts, muffins. It produces a feces that dries extremely hard almost as if enameled onto the surface. Those have to be soaked in water first and allowed to swell before they can be lifted off ...
otherwise they can only be scrapped off by a knife which can degrade the bench or other painted exteriors. 

It might be possible to approach those feeding bread and, after explaining why, offer to 'lend' them some 'approved' birdseed until they can get their own. The loaner packet could have an explanatory pamphlet inside. Healthier for the birds and definitely easier to clean up since the deposits are softer.

The third point is the most difficult ... if the community wants all the birds to roost elsewhere then the only choice (expensive) is to enclose the underside of the pier with netting or screening. 

However, if we are willing to accept a limited amount of bird lime then the existing food source controls should suffice.

March 10th, 2007:  Found another set of scorch marks ... this time on the post and
rail in front of the metal bench in the hoist area.  Had a park staff member look at it and confirm it was recent arson and not some accidental damage done when the large adjacent electrical power panel for the hoist was installed. 

The damaged area on the post is between the top and middle rails. It is a large scorch at least a quarter of inch deep and has scalloped edges as if it were done with a blowtorch. 

I can't honestly say how long it has been there but I don't remember seeing it before nor did the staff person who looked at it. Hopefully this additional damage will be included in the arson investigator's report.

While we were at the hoist a large group of fraternity pledges jogged down the pier and massed in the hoist area for the pledge ritual of diving off the pier. Seeing the staff member watching them they changed their mind. 

I shudder every time I see groups like this because as a former angler I know just how much tackle is underwater there to snag them.  Years and years of perch fisherman losing 'the big one' have littered the pilings with lost line and hooks just below the surface. Not something you want to be attached to as you attempt to swim back to the surface.

*** Today I was at the library again and I checked to see if patrons were allowed to park in the church's upper lot next door. Contrary to what the officer I spoke with last Tuesday  insisted I was told it is not illegal to park there. 

In fact the church has donated use of that lot to the library.  The librarian I spoke with made a copy of my previous report and left it along with my business card for the Head Librarian who returns from vacation next week. 

She could see no reason whatsoever for what happened ... she said they have had no complaints from the church or neighbors about any problems in the lot. She told me the library appreciates the fact that those of us with larger vehicles don't try to crowd into the library's own narrow lot.

March 11th, 2007:  Photographed some graffiti in the men's bathroom on the pier which I first noticed on 2-26-07 ... possible related to recent arson attempts. Funny how I failed to connect the two at first, probably because I was pronouncing the name Piro as if it were a Spanish word (peero) and not the English (pyro).  Maybe it is just a coincidence ... 

Spoke with the Head Ranger about steam cleaning the floor and walls of the men's bathroom on the pier.  I'll spare everybody a picture of the floor and just leave it to your imagination but it hasn't been cleaned or even mopped since last August. 

I explained that in the next few months UPSAC and other organizations will be hosting events here and it would be nice to have the pier at its best. Public events like these should be used to promote and build support for the pier ... not to inadvertently disclose ongoing neglect.

He said there is a work order to replace the floor but for now they will take a fire hose to it. Also mentioned the graffiti on the benches and he will have that done today. Asked if it would be possible to have the benches sanded and restained before the upcoming programs and told it wasn't in the budget. 

Perhaps it's time to put together a voluntary work crew to redo the benches and paint the bathroom interiors ... if anyone is interested in helping please contact me (see bottom of page).

March 12th, 2007:  Emptied both fish line recycle bins today ... they were only installed February 21st.  Both bins were over half full and line was beginning to bulge through the wire mesh openings where the birds could get to it. I had  suggested that the next set of bins use a finer mesh in the interior basket to reduce the number of protruding loose ends. Apparently that presents other problems from a construction angle so for the time being we will just keep them from getting too full.

I haven't seen any evidence yet of the birds actually entering the basket through the opening at the top but if they begin to do that then the opening will have to be reduced or covered with a flap. 

It is encouraging to see that much use of the baskets in just 20 days. I was hoping everybody would understand the importance of keeping the pier line free. With the exception of the overnight handliners there seems to be general acceptance. 

On the other hand I am a bit surprised as to the amount of line already accumulated ... this is the slowest time of the fishing season here at the pier with perhaps only a quarter as many anglers as the rest of the year.

March 13th, 2007: 

Over the past year the pier has suffered from ongoing vandalism and theft of the life rings. The ropes themselves have had to be replaced at least twice and the stolen rings have never been recovered. 

Several months ago following a large storm a commercial lobster trap washed ashore possibly sporting one of the stolen ropes ... recognizable by the duo-color pattern in use at the time. It seems that there were more lobster traps off the end of the pier this year than previously and each trap requires at least 50' of rope.

Several other ropes have been found on the pier or snagged in the pilings. The ends of the ropes had been fashioned into a noose in an attempt to pull mussels off the pilings. 

This morning I found one of the life ring cabinets pulled open and the life ring  slashed at the top. There was no other damage on the pier so hopefully this was an isolated incident. 

March 15th, 2007:  The headlines in the local papers today will be all about the gang fight yesterday afternoon on the main street in downtown Santa Barbara during broad daylight. One dead 15 year old ... how many more before it stops?

The resulting articles will interview multiple public officials who will all swear to 'step up their efforts' ... just like they promised after the gang fight here on the pier in October.

We have yet to see an increased police presence on the pier in spite of similar promises. 

The Santa Barbara Independent has a good article followed by an even better online comments section.  I think such community wide forums are an excellent way to get a feel for the community's response to this escalation in gang violence. 

March 16th, 2007:   Emptied all 4 trash cans in East lot ... having to do that at least 2 times per week now.  Pretty light guano after being off Thursday ... only two benches needed more than just a cursory wipe.

On Saturday a local church group will be using the two fishing ells at the shore end of the pier for their 2nd annual kid's fishing derby. Last year the park staff referred them to me. I gave them a hand and was glad to have had that experience. This year they called me to help out again. 

This morning I cleaned the two ells including scrubbing all the railings and kickboards so the kids wouldn't get guano on their clothes and tackle.  I also broomed and washed down the deck because of all of the smashed mussel shells and meat.  In addition the pigeons have been roosting there this past week so the deck was pretty well covered in guano too. 

I had asked the park if the group could reserve that part of the pier and was told no but there were no objections if I explained the need for the space to any early arrivers not with the group.

On April 15th and 16th the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project will be at Goleta Pier to do a general underwater cleanup, removing fishing lines and hooks wrapped around the pilings. 

March 18th, 2007:

Yesterday after helping the church group set up I took a walk out to the end of the pier.  Just as I got there I heard a commotion and noticed a gull flying away from the pier trailing a length of fishing line. The gull settled in the water about 100 yards from the pier and was unable to get airborn again since the loose end of the line had snagged in some floating kelp. 

Since not much could be done to help the bird I started to walk back when I noticed a couple packages of squid left open on one of the benches.  I walked over to cover them up so the birds wouldn't get into them. Next to the squid was a section of line called a flyline rig ... hook on one end and a swivel on the other. The hook was baited with a piece of squid.

Unfortunately the set up belonged to a group of anglers that should of known better than to leave such a rig unattended.  Since I knew one of them I called him over to the bench and pointed it out. Sometimes in our excitement over catching a fish we forget to keep track of our tackle ... I don't think they will forget this lesson for a while though since we all had to watch the entangled seagull struggle for his life.

This morning, unbelievably, I found the bird free and up on the railing still trailing the line.  I asked one of the regulars to give me a hand in capturing it. After I took a picture the bird flew up onto one of the light poles with the line dangling down. You can see a a small section of it across the bird's back in the above picture.

'M' climbed up on the railing and was able to retrieve the line and bird. While I held it he clipped the line next to the beak and the bird was released. I've been told the hook will rust out in a couple of weeks.

March 20th, 2007:  Two items of interest in the paper this morning:

"Sheriff's deputies responded to a suspected gang fight about 7pm
Sunday on Mandarin Drive in Goleta.  No one was seriously injured.

Soon after the deputies cleared the area, about 30 males, many wearing
hooded sweatshirts, returned to the area, which runs parallel to
Hollister Avenue, and did a kind of march back and forth on the street.

Authorities described such a move as a show of force, intended to intimidate people in the surrounding area."

S.B.News-Press, Searching for end to gang violence, 3-20-2007 


Also noted, in a sidebar accompanying the article, was a community meeting to be held tonight, in Santa Barbara, at the Unitarian's Jefferson Hall to discuss, as the N-P puts it, "...safety in the American Riviera". There are additional meetings scheduled for Wednesday at Casa De La Raza and another Thursday elsewhere in Santa Barbara. I am not aware of any being held in Goleta to discuss our local gang problems.

In other news ...

Prominently posted on the pier are local ordinances that prohibit any commercial fishing boat activity within 200 feet of the pier. The above dive boat was slowly cruising the reef this morning less than 100 foot from the pier when he spotted me taking his picture.  At that point he made an abrupt about face and headed back to sea at high speed. I suspect that he was diving for lobsters and staying close to shore ahead of the approaching storm.


March 21st, 2007:  First Day of Spring ...

One of the regulars brought this new graffiti to my attention ... he said it most likely appeared this past weekend. The view is from Sandspit Road just west of the entrance to the park. It was situated there clearly to warn away members of rival gangs who might be thinking of using the park. 

But that doesn't mean that it is a deterrent to further gang activity ... it just incites rival gangs to respond with challenging behavior of their own. Making the park and pier a location where this rivalry plays out leaves us all that less safe. And by allowing such graffiti to remain the County sends a message that it does not dispute the local gang's territoriality. [3/24/07: Asked park staff to remove the graffiti or replace the bins] 

The last time the park was tagged by GP (for Goleta Projects) was January 13th of this year when the phrase 'Free Hozer' appeared in the men's bathroom on the pier. At the time I wondered what that meant ... now I know. 

It refers to José "Hozer" Romo, a member of the Goleta Projects gang who was convicted in May of 2005 of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of David Montanes Jr. from the Rock Creek Gang (San Marcos High area). 

Here is a link to an article in the SB Independent in May of 2005 detailing citywide efforts towards dealing with the gang problems at that time. It does a good job of depicting typical gang activities and the community's response even if it is a bit overdone in the graphics department. 

On page 15 of that document there is an excellent letter to the editor from a SB probation officer taking the paper to task for gratuitous glorification of the gangster lifestyle. "Ms. Murillo’s flowery language cannot take away the potential danger gang members present to the safety of the community. To depict gang lifestyle and behavior as “cool” or newsworthy is socially irresponsible and unacceptable." I whole heartedly agree. 

March 23rd, 2007:   What is depressing is the amount of effort that went into trying to turn the situation around then ... and here we are two years later with yet another killing and more community meetings focusing on the teenage angst that supposedly lies at the root of the problem. 

Santa Barbara County, with it's more than 800 community-oriented non-profits, has managed to field an impressive number of agencies and programs to assist at risk teens and by all accounts has been successful with those kids who do participate. But that still leaves over 3000 active gang members who have refused all offers of help.

Make that 3000 urban terrorists.  100 of them fought downtown in broad daylight and killed a 15 year old on March 14th. In the evening rivals fought each other in a local hospital while visiting the injured. The following day a San Marcos student, an alleged gang associate, was beaten for his decision not to participate in the original fight. On the 18th 30 more attempt to intimidate an entire neighborhood in Goleta by marching around in hooded sweatshirts like a modern day KKK. 

During the funeral on the 22nd 100 more, dressed in theme t-shirts and trailed by the police, marched en masse through the downtown area to the site where the 15 year old fell. It was meant as a memorial but came across as a show of force with open display of gang hand signals.

I wonder how many of that group were watching or participating on the 14th? Did they not have any sense of shame for creating the disturbance that took their friend's life? How could they interrupt their friend's funeral and distress his parents further by this vulgar display of gang solidarity? 

It was reported that they were carrying a portion of the boy's ashes ... does this imply that the family of the deceased were complicit in the memorial march? Or did they feel they had no choice in the matter. 

March 25th, 2007:

More charred wood and burnt tinfoil on the pier this morning at the last fish cleaning station on the east side. Below the spigot there were several 3" circles burned into the plank as if hot cans had been placed there. 

Further down the pier in front of the last bench a 6' section of 2x6 railing was broken off, split, and used as the firewood. The entire area was covered in trash. I have asked the park staff to report this incident to both the local police and fire department. 

It was suggested that this might be a cooking fire and not intentional arson. Not that that is any excuse for the accompanying vandalism.  But why leave all the charred wood on the pier? 

I still believe we are dealing with a disturbed and potentially dangerous individual with a penchant for acting out in public. I would hope the authorities take notice ... 

March 26th, 2007:  More reference reading on a wet, drizzly day ...

The El Niño Southern Oscillation

Click here to go to NOAA's El NIÑO theme page.
Negative values of the MEI represent the cold ENSO phase (La Niña
while positive MEI values represent the warm ENSO phase (El Niño).

"El Niño is a periodic reversal of ocean currents, winds, and weather systems that stretches across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, halfway around the planet at its widest girth. It is a redistributor of heat and energy in the hottest part of the world's oceans, which kicks in when the regular circulation systems can no longer cope. In normal times, the winds and surface waters of the tropical Pacific, driven by Earth's rotation, flow from the Americas in the East to Indonesia in the West. In the tropical heat, the water warms as it goes. The result is the gradual accumulation of a pool of hot water on the ocean surface around Indonesia. This pool can be up to 13°F warmer than the water on the other side of the ocean, and can contain more heat energy than the entire atmosphere. All that heat generates storm clouds that keep the rainforests of Southeast Asia wet. 

But the constant flow to the west also piles up water. Trapped against the Indonesian archipelago, the warm pool can rise as much as 15 inches above sea levels farther east. Clearly, this state of affairs cannot last. And every few years, usually when the winds slacken, this raised pool of warm water breaks out and flows back across the surface of the ocean, right along the equator. As the warm water moves east, the wind and weather systems that it creates follow. 

Deprived of their storm-generating weather systems, Indonesia and a  wide area of the western Pacific, including much of Australia, dry out. There are forest and bush fires, and crops shrivel in the fields. Meanwhile, the displaced wet and stormy rainforest climate drenches normally arid Pacific islands, and often reaches the coastal deserts of the Americas. Ripples from this vast movement of heat and moisture spread around the globe. They move west through the Indian Ocean, disrupting the Indian monsoon and causing rains or drought in Africa, depending on the season. They move east. Beyond the flooding on the Pacific shores of the Americas, El Niño brings drought in the Amazon rainforest. Its hidden hand alters flow down the River Nile, triggers rains in the hills of Palestine, and damps down hurricane formation in the North Atlantic. 

Typically, an individual El Niño event lasts twelve to eighteen month After it has abated, the system often goes into sharp reverse, with exceptionally wet conditions in Indonesia and fierce drought further east. This called La Niña. Together, El Niño and its sister constitute a vast oscillation of ocean and atmosphere that in recent times has been the most intense fluctuation in the world's climate system." 

With Speed and Violence: 
Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change 
Fred Pearce 
Beacon Press


March 27th, 2007: 

Found life ring at end of pier removed from cabinet and dropped in the water around the last piling. The other end was tied to the pier railing . Have no idea what it was being used for.  Also found 2 complete monofilament hi-lo rigs with treble hooks and 2oz pyramid sinkers still attached and left sprawled across the deck. The hooks did not look as if they had been baited - perhaps snaggers?

March 30th, 2007: 

Found this gull 'trussed' up at the end of the pier this morning.  The bird was hooked in the beak and chest and was completely entangled in a 50' piece of monofilament fishing line that had become snagged on the railing. 

Since the bird was immobile and not overly excited I took a minute to document its distress. Then I placed the bird between my knees to restrain its wings.  Holding its beak with my left hand I fished a nail clipper out of my pocket and started cutting and unwrapping line. After a couple of minutes I was able to remove both hooks only to discover a third in its throat.

Not having a hook remover with me I cut the line close to the bill and then checked the bird for broken legs or wings.  Finding none I set the bird down on the railing where it remained for a few minutes and then flew off. 

While putting the recovered line (minus hooks) into the recycling bin I noticed that someone had clipped and removed the o-rings holding the wire mesh lid to the frame ... more random vandalism.  Later one of the unofficial recyclers showed me three grocery bags full of beer bottles he retrieved from the trash can at the end of the pier this morning. 15 QUART bottles in just one night from that one area alone. Must have been one heck of a party.

Previously I had been inclined to attribute these hookings to anglers leaving hand lines in the water overnight unaware of the damage they were doing to the birds.

But now after finding four such birds in the last month, noticing how much blood there was on this bird, and seeing how much alcohol was consumed I wonder ... 
was the hooked gull last night's featured entertainment for a bunch of drunken wahoos? 

Questions or comments? ... email  Pierhead

Copyright © 2007 by Boyd Grant.  All Rights Reserved