With more loons dying of lead poisoning, incentives increased in buy-back program

  • Officials say fishing tackle made of lead is responsible for another year of high loon mortality rates. AP file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/17/2018 5:12:07 PM

In response to another year of high loon mortality resulting from the birds swallowing fishing tackle made of lead, incentives are being doubled in a buy-back program to get anglers to switch to non-toxic tackle.

Through Labor Day or until the initial 200 certificates are claimed, anglers can exchange 1 ounce or more of banned jigs and sinkers for $20 in gift certificates redeemable at at least two shops participating in the pilot program – AJ’s Tackle at 8 Maple St., Meredith, and The Tackle Shack at 894 NH-103, Newbury.

Only banned tackle – lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less – is eligible for exchange. One exchange is permitted per customer. Small lead sinkers and jigs are banned in all freshwater in the state.

In 2017, a total of eight loons were confirmed dead after ingesting lead sinkers and jigs up to 1.3 ounces. Another six loons have died so far this year as a result of lead poisoning. One other loon underwent a procedure to remove lead tackle and was rehabilitated and released, but faces an uncertain future. At least four of the loons had associated tackle (hooks, line, etc.) indicating that ingested tackle was likely from current fishing activity and not from old tackle on the bottom.

In general, a loon will die from lead poisoning approximately two to four weeks after swallowing lead fishing tackle.

The Loon Preservation Committee and New Hampshire Fish & Game Department are working cooperatively with many other organizations to educate anglers about the effects of lead poisoning on loons via a program called Fish Lead Free (fishleadfree.org).

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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