Successful Blue Heron Release

A few weeks back, Longmont Animal Control brought in a Great Blue Heron, normally strong and feisty, entwined in fishing line. He was docile, astoundingly emaciated and unable to fish, fly, or even stand. The officer had already detached a fish hook from his foot, but line was wrapped around his beak, locking it shut. After our staff removed the line, they gave him fluids, pain medication, antibiotics and then placed him under a heat lamp. The next morning we were anxious to check on him. Did he survive the night or were our efforts too late? To our amazement, we found him powerfully strutting around and gulping down fish. He had truly escaped from the jaws of death. We named him Miles.

But his traumatic story was not over yet. The next day, Miles made eerie, gurgling sounds and began spitting up fish. X-rays showed another hook caught in his throat and a fishing swivel much deeper in his digestive system. To the rescue came Dr. Colin Combs of West Ridge Animal Hospital in Greeley, who performed endoscopic surgery on Miles.

Once Miles was under anesthesia, Dr. Combs grabbed the fishing swivel with an endoscope. He then tried to snag the hook with the swivel. After many attempts and much finesse, he was eventually able to remove the hook and all of the fishing line. Following this nearly two hour-long painstaking surgery, Miles returned to Greenwood and given ulcer medication to aid the healing of the spot where the hook had embedded in his esophagus. He immediately began eating and gaining weight. Miles was released back into the wild only a little more than a week after surgery.

This wondrous community effort started with the concerned citizen who called animal control. Supporters brought goldfish at $45 per day when he was unable to ingest large fish. Fishers at a nearby lake caught trout to feed him and delivered them to Greenwood. Three veterinarians donated their time to do X-rays, examinations, and surgery. Volunteers transported him and staff showed incredible patience and persistence caring for him.

We are thrilled at this success story and so proud of our community that helped make it possible. Thank you!

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