By Pamela Lehman, Of The Morning Call
Bethlehem police animal control officer Ben Hackett said he doesn’t mind taking some heat for a daring rescue across the frigid Lehigh Canal for a crow snared on a fishing line.
A woman discovered the frantic female crow near Sand Island about 10 a.m. Monday, flying in circles about 12 feet off the ground around a tree, Hackett said Thursday.
The woman didn’t want to see the crow suffer. She called the city for help.
The bird’s right wingtip had been impaled by a fishing hook, and Hackett said it was obvious the exhausted crow had been there awhile. Bird droppings and blood covered the ground.
“I’m taking a lot of heat for all this work to rescue a crow, but we don’t discriminate when it comes to injured animals,” Hackett said. “If it’s an animal we can help, we’re going to do what we need to do.”
The bird’s precarious position made a simple rescue nearly impossible, Hackett said. The tree was on the south side of the canal and stretched out about 15 feet over the water.
The water in the canal was only frozen in spots, and Hackett said he considered sending in the fire department’s water rescue crew but later abandoned the idea.
“We didn’t want to jeopardize human lives by sending them into the freezing water to save a crow, so we needed another plan,” he said.
Hackett said that after a phone call to a firefighter, he suggested using the department’s aerial ladder and stretching it across the water to reach the distressed bird.
“I told the firefighter, ‘This can’t be the stupidest thing a cop has ever asked you to do, right?’ ” Hackett said. “He told me, ‘By far!’ ”
Hackett was armed with a towel to subdue the cawing bird, and the firefighter had a net and device similar to a grill lighter they hoped would quickly burn through the fishing line.
But the burning device didn’t work, and they instead used wire cutters to clip the line and snared the bird in the net.
“She had a large beak and some serious talons,” Hackett said. “I don’t care who you are, if you have a crow flying at your face, you’re going to duck.”
Hackett said the bird made it through the rescue with the help of a volunteer from the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, who was there for the rescue.
According to the center’s Facebook site, the bird is recovering from a “severely sprained wing” and they hope to return her soon to the wild.
Hackett said although the rescue wasn’t a typical one for him, everyone was pleased at the outcome.
“This was because of someone’s irresponsibility to leave a snagged line up in the tree,” Hackett said. “It was our fault, not the bird’s fault.”