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Mora resident Erin Dyck headed to Knife Lake on Wednesday to catch some fish before the rains rolled in on her birthday. 

As it turned out, Dyck's best catch of the day would come later that afternoon, when her split-second decision to jump into the water led to the rescue of an American white pelican. 

For days, the pelican had been unable to free itself after being caught in heavy-duty fishing line. 

Dyck first saw the pelican on Wednesday after a short fishing trip to the lake — she noticed the bird's head was being held down by a fishing line wrapped around both of its wings and caught around its feet. 

After a phone call to the Department of Natural Resources, Dyck learned that wildlife officials and rehabilitators had been aware of the ensnared pelican since Saturday, but were unable to rescue it. 

"I went home and I just felt sick about it," Dyck told Bring Me The News.

Later that afternoon, her husband arrived home and asked what she'd like to do to celebrate her birthday. 

"Do you want to go catch a pelican?" she recalls responding. 

With permission from a conservation officer, the couple headed back to the lake equipped with two large nets, towels and scissors. 

A few attempts to capture the pelican ended with the bird swimming away. Then, with the bird swimming towards a bridge, Dyck made a split-second decision to jump into the water. 

Within a few minutes, with Dyck holding the bird and her husband cutting through the wire, the pelican was free. 

Dyck said she wasn't sure what to expect next.

After all, the pelicans had moved through the area a couple of weeks ago and she wasn't sure if the trapped bird had been able to eat or drink while entangled.

But, soon after, the pelican spread its wings and took flight.

"When I actually saw him fly away, that just like made me tear up," Dyck said. "It was a once in a lifetime event and I'm glad it worked out."

Afterwards, Dyck's mother walked the shoreline and collected an estimated 30 pounds of trash.

"There was fishing line entangled everywhere," Dyck said, adding she hopes her experience will remind Minnesotans fishing this summer of the importance of cleaning-up. 

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