Seagull tangled in fishing line rescued

Center Moriches firefighter Greg Matonis (right) rescues a

Center Moriches firefighter Greg Matonis (right) rescues a seagull tangled in a tree at Kaler's Pond in Center Moriches on Sunday morning. Matonis, also a wildlife animal expert, was assisted by fellow firefighter Brian Deedy (left) in the rescue. (March 31, 2013) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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They say cats have nine lives, but one lucky seagull in Center Moriches has at least two.

The gull, which was found by Kaler's Pond Sunday morning hanging by fishing line wrapped around its wing in a tree about 25 feet off the ground, was rescued by a firefighter who also works as a wildlife rehabilitator.

Greg Matonis, a firefighter with the Center Moriches Fire Department and hospital supervisor at the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons in Hampton Bays, said he was off duty when his chief called him in to rescue the trapped gull.

"He was moving a lot. He was in stress," Matonis said.

Matonis said he and a colleague went up to the gull in a ladder truck and cut the bird down from the branch before examining it for injuries.

The bird's wing was fatigued, and some of its feathers were broken, but the ring-billed gull was otherwise unhurt, he said.

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"He will be all right," Matonis said. "He got in the water right away and he looks perfect."

If passersby hadn't spotted it and called authorities, Matonis said, the gull would have had a slow, painful death in the tree. Matonis said the gull had likely gotten tangled up in old filament that a careless fisherman hadn't disposed of properly.

"I think he's a lucky bird," Matonis said.

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