WESTFIELD, NJ — A green heron was saved from a painful end in Lenape Park on April 15, when Union County volunteers and personnel came to the rescue and freed the bird from an errant fishing line.
“Thanks to the quick thinking of our citizens and county employees, this graceful bird can continue to enrich the habitat of Lenape Park,” said Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh. “On behalf of the Freeholder Board, I’d like to thank everyone who pitched in to help. It is very reassuring to know that so many people are willing to take the time to help preserve wildlife in our parks.”
The drama began when the heron was spotted hanging in a tree over the lake at Lenape Park by Union County resident David Bernstein, an avid birder who visits the park regularly. He alerted county volunteer Natalie Gregorio, who contacted the county. Personnel from the County Police Division, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Department of Public Works and Facilities all responded to the call, along with the Westfield Fire Department.
County personnel rowed out to a spot in the lake below the bird, cut it free, and secured it in a net to bring it on shore.
After calming the bird by wrapping it in a towel, they carefully cut away the fishing lines that were tangled around its beak and legs, and then let it rest briefly in a covered box. The bird flew away when the cover was lifted, apparently none the worse for the ordeal.
Union County’s original parks system was designed in the 1920s to provide for nature conservation as well as public recreation. It was among the very first county-based parks systems ever established in the U.S. Today, hundreds of plant and animal species flourish side by side with more than 500,000 Union County residents and visitors.
To help preserve wildlife in County parks, anglers are urged to be aware of lake-dwelling, foraging birds like the green heron when casting a line, and to properly dispose of unwanted lines, hooks, and other equipment.
Everyone who enjoys Union County parks can join with hundreds of other residents and visitors who participate in the County’s Adopt-a-Park program each year, to work on clean-up events and other habitat preservation projects.
For information on Adopt-a-Park and all other programs and activities in Union County parks, visit ucnj.org.