No sooner had the ice cleared on the upper Mitford Pond that another waterfowl fell victim to a discarded fishing line and hook. This time it was a male Hooded Merganser, believed to have been seen only the day before with his mate at the pond.

ducksOnly a day before these Hooded Merganser were spotted on the Upper Mitford Pond. (photo supplied)

When pulled in, the duck was completely entangled in about 10 metres of fishing line with a hook at the end.

With migratory birds returning, the residents of the area are calling for enhanced public education, signage and enforcement to help prevent such incidents from occurring. They are working with both town and the Cochrane Environmental Action Committee (CEAC).

Alberta Fish and Wildlife was contacted about the latest death and residents were told it's the town's responsibility to manage the area.

"Midford Park in the 2008 plan is shown on the map as a nature preserve, but there's been nothing to reinforce it," says Dave Fennell, one of the residents. "There's no signage, there's nothing that describes what it is, so as part of our feedback to the municipal development plan we want these areas formally designated and signed."

The death of waterfowl at the pond occurs far too often and is commonly the result of carelessly discarded fishing lines and dog attacks. Dogs in the park are required to be leashed but residents of the area say they are often set free.

Last year, "Buddy the Goose" a popular fixture of the area feel prey to an animal attack. Whether it was by a dog, fox or coyote is unknown.

An astonishing 116 different species of birds have been viewed in the park. Some are migratory but others hang their hat in the area and there are nests by the two ponds, along the creek, and in the trees.

pond signA sign at Grotto Mountain Pond, west on the Trans Canada. There are no signs by the ponds at Mitford Park. (submitted)

"This is not just an extension of an off-leash area," says resident Dave Fennell. "It's not just an extension of a soccer field. This is wildlife habitat and I think signage in the area would give bylaw increased authority around it."

With more signage and awareness, they believe anglers will understand the need to take the time to remove fishing line and hooks tangled in the trees and along its shores.

They also believe events, like Kids Can Catch Day that has been frequently held in June, can help educate people of the plight.

Mitford Pond is stocked annually with trout for fishing in partnership with the Alberta Conservation Association and is a favourite spot for families.  Anglers 13 years old and younger are allowed to use bait and keep one trout per day. All other anglers 14 years and older, must release their catch and use single barbless hooks on their lures or flies without bait. A license is required by any person 16 or over. There is no night or ice fishing permitted. 

Recently, the CEAS Living Sustainably Speaker Series featured a presentation on birding. Fennell says 63 people attended, including some enthusiastic and knowledgeable 7 and eight-year-olds.

A follow-up bird outing is in the works.