There are generally two different ways fishing line might end up in a body of water. The obvious one is from a broken line, maybe after snagging your hook on something (or that massive fish that broke your line). The other, sadly, is people discarding fishing line right into the water. While it can occasionally accidentally blow away, there are unfortunately anglers that have been known to toss unwanted line right into the water.
Regardless of how the fishing line might end up in the water, the DNR is making a plea to anglers to make their best attempt to retrieve broken line and certainly not to discard it into or near waterways on purpose.
In mid-June, the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife staff got a call about a male loon on a lake north of Grand Rapids that was tangled in a pretty significant amount of fishing line. The line was not only wrapped around the bird's beak a number of times, but also in its wings.
The DNR said in their post that situations like this often don't have great outcomes, even if humans know about the situation. They explain that catching wildlife can be a difficult task, and the risk of further injury in an attempt to catch the animal and provide care can sometimes outweigh the value of a rescue attempt.
Thankfully DNR staff were able to intervene while this loon was taking a turn incubating eggs on a nesting platform put out by humans during a nighttime operation. After assessing the situation during daylight hours, the rescue team was able to come back around midnight to capture the loon while nesting, safely remove the fishing line, and release it back into the lake.
While this loon was lucky enough to get some help, not all situations provide the right circumstances to allow for a successful rescue and happy ending. Because of that, the DNR stresses the importance of not discarding fishing line into or near waterways and to make attempts to retrieve broken fishing line to avoid situations like this for loons and other wildlife.