MEDIA RELEASE: VIDEO: Lake Balboa Park: Waterfowl Deathtrap & Human Health Hazard from Derelict Fishing Gear

MEDIA RELEASE: VIDEO: Lake Balboa Park: Waterfowl Deathtrap & Human Health Hazard from Derelict Fishing Gear

VAN NUYS, Calif. (January 25, 2022)In Defense of Animals’ National Goose Protection Coalition warns of a safety hazard derelict fishing gear poses for waterfowl, other animals, and people (especially children) at Lake Balboa Park, where unregulated fishing is permitted 24/7. Residents report massive amounts of derelict fishing gear left behind every night when park supervision is limited, while calls on officials to act have gone ignored. “Ghost gear” injures and kills local waterfowl daily. 

Watch this new video showing animal injuries and deaths documented by the Balboa Park Rescue Team.

View and download images and videos of waterfowl and a child injured by fishing gear at Lake Balboa Park here.

“Lake Balboa Park has become a deathtrap for local waterfowl and a hazard to human health,” said Lisa Levinson, of In Defense of Animals. “Hundreds of resident and migrating birds used to find a safe haven in this urban park. Now many of them have lost limbs or even lost their lives from living here, or stopping by along the Pacific Flyway. Fishing is to blame for this tragic loss of life and limbs. Children have been injured by dumped fishing gear too. We urge Lake Balboa Park officials and Los Angeles City Council President Martinez to immediately ban fishing at Lake Balboa Park to spare kids from injuries, save animal lives, and restore peace at this popular park.”

Over 6,000 In Defense of Animals supporters contacted park officials and local legislators urging them to ban fishing and start a waterfowl protection program at Lake Balboa Park.

Hunting and killing of waterfowl is also suspected within the park. Local rescuers have regularly documented missing waterfowl. Residents have also reported seeing fishermen carrying large weapons into the park at night.

Anglers who fish Lake Balboa neglect or refuse to pick up their fishing tackle like lines, hooks, and nets, causing painful injuries and death to more than just fish. Rescuers find ducks and geese with fishing tackle or nets wrapped around their legs, often making it impossible for them to walk or fly, or embedded into birds’ mouths, throats, or feet. Plastic fishing lines wrap around the legs of waterfowl, stopping their circulation, and resulting in many coots, ducks, and geese with only one leg to stand on. 

Ducks, geese, coots, pelicans, pigeons, terns, cranes, seagulls, raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits who live near the lake are all at risk from hazardous fishing gear left behind. Killing fish with lines, nets, and traps also harms wild animals who live in the park by leaving them hungry and without adequate food to eat. 

Several people have reported being hurt by fishing hooks left on the ground, including a young girl wearing tennis shoes who suffered an injury after one left on the ground pierced through the rubber of her shoe, her sock, and went into her foot.

Balboa Lakes’ water is contaminated, so humans who fish there can’t eat the fish they cruelly impale. In addition to the trauma of being hooked and caught, locals have documented many fish left behind to suffocate and die in agony flapping to death on the ground.

A small, but mighty team of advocates are working round the clock to pick up the derelict fishing gear and pull hooks from bodies of anxious, fearful birds. Some have been accosted by fishermen at night without adequate protection from local authorities. Waterfowl injuries are rampant, and tensions are mounting at Lake Balboa Park, which closes at sunset yet allows fishing 24/7. 

Lake Balboa Park Aquatics Director Andre Brent, Lake Balboa Park Senior Ranger Gary Menjuga, and Los Angeles City Council President CA-District 06 Nury Martinez have not responded to calls from In Defense of Animals about derelict fishing gear that litters the ground at Lake Balboa Park and endangers people, waterfowl, and other animals at the park.

Derelict fishing gear is a local, national, and international issue. In Defense of Animals’ National Goose Protection Coalition formed in 2019 to help concerned citizens stop goose and waterfowl cruelty in their communities. Contact the coalition for resources to take action in your community at Learn more and find nonlethal strategies to coexist with waterfowl at:

Follow Saving Lake Balboa Waterfowl on Facebook for abuse updates and volunteer for the Balboa Park Rescue Team.

Concerned members of the public are encouraged to contact the Los Angeles City Council President and Field Deputy and to the Lake Balboa Park Senior Ranger to urge a fishing ban and waterfowl protection plan at Lake Balboa Park:



In Defense of Animals, Lisa Levinson,, (215) 620-2130
Balboa Park Rescue Team, Farnaz Tamjid,

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.


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