Lead is also the leading cause of death of loons. Loons dive for fish and to assist in the digestion process consume gravel from the bottom of the lake. When the gravel includes spent shot or lost fishing weights, these materials are ingested as well causing lethal damage. According to studies at Tufts University, Wildlife Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, over 44% of all adult loon freshwater deaths come from lead poisoning. In addition to ingesting lead weights, they also come across lead from consuming fish that have ingested lead. Most of the lead objects that prove fatal are less that one ounce, less than one inch long and less than ½ inch wide. Recent legislative efforts have banned use of lead in fishing gear. Bill LD 730 enacted last year, prohibits use of lead gear by fishermen in 2014 and bans stores from selling lead sinkers and lures beginning September 1, 2016.
You can do your part by exchanging your tackle for steel weights.
The Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District each spring offers free exchanges. However, even if you have to “bite the bullet” (hopefully not lead) and purchase new steel tackle, it is worth it if we save the life of one of our special loons or other waterfowl.