On Wednesday, Mora resident Erin Dyck headed to Knife Lake to catch some fish before the rains hit on her birthday.
As it turned out, Dyck’s best catch of the day would come later in the afternoon, when his split-second decision to jump into the water led to the rescue of an American white pelican.
For days, the pelican had been unable to break free after being caught in a heavy fishing line.
Dyck saw the pelican for the first time on Wednesday after a short fishing trip in the lake – she noticed the bird’s head was held up by fishing line wrapped around both of its wings and caught around its legs.
After a phone call to the Department of Natural Resources, Dyck learned that wildlife officials and rehabilitators had known about the trapped pelican since Saturday, but were unable to save it.
“I came home and was fed up,” Dyck told Bring Me The News.
Later that afternoon, her husband came home and asked her what she would like to do to celebrate her birthday.
“Do you want to go catch a pelican?” she remembers answering.
With the permission of a conservation officer, the couple returned to the lake equipped with two large nets, towels and scissors.
A few attempts to capture the pelican ended with the bird swimming away. Then, as the bird swam towards a bridge, Dyck made a split-second decision to jump into the water.
Within minutes, as Dyck held the bird and her husband cut the thread, the pelican was free.
Dyck said she wasn’t sure what to expect next.
After all, the pelicans had moved into the area a few weeks ago and she wasn’t sure if the trapped bird could eat or drink while entangled.
But, soon after, the pelican spread its wings and took flight.
“When I saw it fly away, it made me cry,” Dyck said. “It was a once in a lifetime event and I’m glad it worked out.”
Then Dyck’s mother walked the shore and picked up about 30 pounds of trash.
“There were tangled fishing lines everywhere,” Dyck said, adding that she hopes her experience will remind Minnesota anglers this summer of the importance of cleanup.