Andy Van Laan holds the goose he's about to untangle in McKinley Park.

Goose Rescue Inspires Fishing Line Containers, Pollution Awareness at McKinley Park Lagoon

Published October 25, 2018

Rescue of one of the migratory geese that flock to McKinley Park has led to new fishing line disposal containers around the park's lagoon. Goose rescuer Andy Van Laan, an avian expert who leads birdwatching sessions at the park, came across the bound goose and was able to free it with the help of McKinley Park Community Garden President Nicholas Efronsis.

"I happened to have a multi-tool with me, and Andy used it to carefully remove the line," Efronsis said. When he heard this had happened multiple times, Efronsis reached out to the McKinley Park Advisory Council (MPAC), which worked with its contacts at the Chicago Park District toward installing the containers to help keep the lagoon clear of fishing tackle.

McKinley Park fishing line disposal binThe new fishing line disposal containers stand at key fishing spots around the McKinley Park lagoon.Advisory council Secretary Katie Flores said they reached out to Forrest Cortes in the park district's Natural Areas department, who moved quickly to address the issue by placing new bins at key areas around the lagoon. 

"I am thrilled that it was taken so seriously," Efronsis said. "I've come to really appreciate what assets people like Andy and the members of MPAC are to our community, park and wildlife."

Other litter seemingly coming from the fishing community has been noted at the lagoon recently, said advisory council Vice President Samantha Belcik. "I want to stress that not all fishermen are irresponsible," she said. "It is probably a select few who abuse the lagoon by not tossing beer bottles and used fishing line in the proper receptacles."

Andy Van Laan rescued goose foot McKinley ParkFishing tackle tangles up the foot of the about-to-be-rescued goose at McKinley Park."This not only pollutes our lagoon, but taints the essence of good fishermen being stewards to the environment," she said. "The fishing line disposal containers will help, but we still need people to use them as they fish or stroll along the water's edge."

Van Laan and Efronsis were able to free the tangled waterfowl. According to Van Laan's estimation, the rescued goose had not been bound for long and was not significantly injured, Efronsis said.

The park's advisory council meets monthly and is always looking for more community members to get involved in supporting McKinley Park, Belcik said. Its next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 12, at One City Tap.

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