A cleanup of two island on Lake Mille Lacs resulted in 22 bags of trash left by summer anglers.

Each year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe spend a day cleaning up a pair of islands on Mille Lacs Lake. This year, MPR reports, their cleanup day on August 22 resulted in 22 bags of trash collected -- 8 on Hennepin Island and 14 on Spirit Island.

“Every year, they bring in huge amounts of all sorts of items that were lost, or unfortunately deposited in the waters, by careless fishermen,” says refuge manager Walt Ford.

Trash collected includes thousands of feet of fishing line, bungee cords, broken fishing rods, sunglasses, clothing items and pieces of plastic.

While birds in the area do a great service to the collectors by bringing the rubbish to shore and lining their nests with it, Walt notes that the littering poses more danger and harm to the ecosystem than good.

“It’s a miserable, slow death to be entangled in this line. It gets wrapped around their legs so they can’t swim, wrapped around their wings so they can’t fly. Sometimes it’s around their neck and they’re anchored in place, and they get eventually strangled to death.”

More than anything, Walt, who fishes on Mille Lacs Lake himself, hopes that the amount of trash collected during cleanup day will be an eye opener and warning to other Minnesota anglers.

“It would help if people were just a little bit more aware of the fact that even one little piece of litter can add up to quite a bit."

Back in April, the MN DNR shared a similar issue of trash left behind by winter ice fishers. The photos shared to social media were appalling.

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