Getting ready for fishing season? Choosing non-toxic fishing tackle will help protect eagles, loons, and other wildlife.
Tackling the problem
Lead is a toxic metal that, in sufficient quantities, has adverse effects on the nervous and reproductive systems of animals. Found in most fishing jigs and sinkers, this metal is poisoning wildlife such as eagles, loons, and other waterfowl.
More anglers are using fishing tackle made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, steel, and tungsten. And these alternatives are becoming easier to find.
What’s the risk?
Weigh the evidence. While it is hard to get an accurate count of water birds and birds of prey that die from ingesting lead tackle, current research indicates that lead poisoning is a serious concern — and that such poisoning is avoidable because non-toxic alternatives are available.
Research around the nation has found that lead poisoning from lead fishing tackle is responsible for 12 to 50% of adult loon deaths.
The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota has monitored injured bald eagles for lead since 1980. Lead poisoning has been the cause of admission of 315 out of a total of 1,398 eagles, or 23%. Eagles are exposed when they eat fish that have ingested lead tackle.
Teach your tadpoles
Create a lead-free tackle box for your kids or grandkids. Choose from the tin split shot, bismuth jigheads, and tungsten composite worm weights. They are non-toxic and safer for youngsters to handle. Plus, it’s a great way to help instill a strong conservation ethic.
Don’t throw old lead tackle in the trash.
Bring it to your local household hazardous waste collection site during your next visit. Some scrap metal recyclers may also accept lead.