3 Young Men Rescue Pelican Stuck in Fishing Line Near Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale

A group of friends rescued a pelican stuck in fishing line in Fort Lauderdale last week.

Monday, Jan 6, 2014  |  Updated 2:54 AM EDT
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A dramatic rescue by three friends saved a pelican's life, and the rescue was all caught on camera. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.

A dramatic rescue by three friends saved a pelican's life, and the rescue was all caught on camera. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.

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A dramatic rescue by three friends saved a pelican's life.

The bird was trapped in a fishing line in a lake near the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.

"He was hissing at me and biting at me and I kinda grabbed his beak and then grabbed his wings and sort of picked him up," said Greg Schreiber, one of his rescuers.

The friends, one a student at Texas A & M, one at the University of South Florida and one in high school, were fishing when they noticed the pelican.

"We were actually looking at osprey and the we happened to notice that there was a pelican hanging from its beak with a string," Schreiber said.

The friends called officials at the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for help.

"The ambulance guy was very well equipped, very knowledgeable and they brought a 10 person fire truck team to come get the pelican down," said Chad Hager, another one of the bird's rescuers.

The pelican was taken to the South Florida Wildlife Center with a severe injury that officials said was caused by a careless fisher.

"Fishing line constricts their extremities, the wings, so this is a sad story and unfortunately it's very common," said Dr. Stefan Harsch with the Wildlife Center. "But time and supportive care helped him over that rough patch and he will make a complete recovery, I'm convinced."

The friends decided to visit the pelican one last time before heading back to school, and said the experience was unforgettable.

"I looked directly in his eyes and honestly, it was profound," rescuer Bruce Hager said. "I honestly saw that he recognized me and I, it sounds crazy but I saw a bit of appreciation from him."

Officials said the pelican could be released back into the wild in about 3 weeks, depending on how quickly it recovers.

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