The following article was written by Karen Porreca, PETA's senior library director and chief copy editor.
long ago, while walking my dogs at Chicks Beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I
noticed some commotion up ahead of me. As I approached the couple and their
dog, I asked, “Is everything OK?” It turned out that they had found two
birds―one dead and one alive―tangled up together in fishing line. They had
removed as much of the fishing line as they could from the living bird and
then, wanting to get back to their jogging, had stashed the bird, who couldn’t
seem to fly, in some tall grass. I knew that that was a bad idea―many dogs
frequent this beach, and the bird was likely to get mauled by one of them or
else die of thirst. So I went and found the bird, and seeing what bad shape she
was in, took her to be euthanized.
experience was very depressing, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s bad
enough that anglers kill fish on purpose and in such a cruel way―must they also
kill birds and other animals in an equally horrendous manner?
I did a little poking around online and found out some shocking statistics: Apparently, more than a million birds die each year because
of fishing debris. And marine mammals are not exempt, either. Each year,
approximately 100,000 of them, including dolphins and manatees, are killed by
fishing line and related paraphernalia. How can we be allowing this?
next time I was on the beach, the sight of an angler took me right back to those
dark thoughts. I approached him. Diplomacy has never been my strong suit, and though
I always try to remain calm, I’ll admit that I have had many verbal
confrontations with strangers at dog parks over what I consider to be
unacceptable treatment of their dogs. But I had never tried having a discussion
about animal rights with an angler on the beach before. I’ve always wanted to
address anglers because I see so many of them and they’re killing animals right
in front of me, but up until this point, I’d never been able to come up with a
way to start the conversation.
said, “Hi! How’s it going?” He replied with a casual remark. Then I said, “Hey,
could I tell you something that happened to me recently?” He was all ears, so I
proceeded to tell him the story of the two birds tangled up in fishing line and
express my sorrow about what had happened. To my amazement, the response was
very positive and polite! He assured me that he never leaves fishing line
behind and very much disapproves of anglers who do. I thanked and praised him
for being so conscientious and went on my way.
a few similar encounters with other anglers, I felt emboldened to add, in an
offhand manner, “I actually would be even happier if you didn’t kill any fish,
either, but at least we need to protect birds from being killed inadvertently.”
This comment didn’t necessarily get any of the anglers to put down their
fishing rods, but at least it planted a seed―the notion that a normal,
pleasant, caring person actually considers it wrong to kill fish.
plan to continue this personal outreach to anglers. It’s easy and
nonthreatening, and I hope it will prevent some suffering―of both birds and
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.