VENICE – The hospital at the Wildlife Center of Venice is a safe haven for pelicans injured by man-made entanglement.

“Which happens when a pelican gets caught up with a fisherman or in fishing line or a net,” Wildlife Center Site Coordinator Mark Martell said. “That gets entangled around their wings or legs, hooks in them, things like that.”

Martell starts by treating the injuries, whether it’s removing a hook or unwrapping a line.

Once they’re able to fly, they’re moved to the aviary.

“Where they can spread their wings, fly around a little bit, go for a swim in the pool, eat fish like they normally would, get ’em fattened up,” Martell said. “Then they schedule them for release, just like what’s happening on Saturday.”

Where five healed pelicans will be set free.

Martell hopes they’ll stay free, with a new campaign for fishers called “Stow it, don’t throw it.”

“So that they can put their hooks or line things, that they normally would leave laying around in something like this [container], fill it up, throw it away come get another one.”

Martell says if you do hook a pelican, or just see one tangled, hold on to it and call the Wildlife Center.

“If you cut the line, they fly away with a long piece of line attached to them,” Martell said. “It can get caught in a tree, which happens a lot, and then they’re caught there either hanging or caught to the tree.”

Where they will likely die if not rescued, so be mindful you’re sharing the water with nature’s fishermen.

“They’re fighting for their chance to get a fish, and they’re pretty stubborn,” Martell said. “Sometimes they don’t wanna go away.”

The release is Saturday, March 24th at 6:00 p.m. at the North Jetty Beach Park in Nokomis.

You can buy a $5 raffle ticket for a chance to open the cage yourself to release a pelican.

For details visit https://wildlifecenterofvenice.org/.