A longtime Minnesota tradition, and a fun way to spend time outside, is fishing. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has lots of information to get you started. In addition to introducing a kid to fishing, here are some things to think about.
Get the Lead Out: Using non-lead fishing tackle protects wildlife and human health
Anglers rely on sinkers and jigs to help them go after “the big ones,” but fishing tackle made from lead is toxic. Research around the nation has found that poisoning from lead fishing tackle is responsible for 12 to 50% of adult dead loons. Lead poisoning from fishing tackle also affects eagles, waterfowl, and other wildlife. For more information on the effects of lead poisoning, visit the Get the Lead Out website.
How you can help
- Purchase non-lead tackle and ask retailers to stock non-lead options. Inexpensive and ecologically sound lead alternatives are available, including tin, bismuth, steel, and tungsten.
- Educate fellow anglers. Members of lake associations around the state can help promote lead-free tackle by putting up a FREE educational display and non-lead samples at your next gathering.
- Be lead-smart. Never put a lead sinker in your mouth or bite down on a slip shot-use a pair of pliers instead! And wash your hands thoroughly after handling lead sinkers or cleaning out your tackle box.
- Always make sure your boat motor is tuned-up and running clean without leaking excessive gas or oil into the lake. If you’re in the market for a new motor, consider a cleaner, more efficient model, such as the newer four-stroke and fuel-injected models.
- Never re-fuel or boat or gas tank on the water to prevent any spills directly into the lake.
- Check out the water quality of your favorite fishing spot, as well as any fish consumption advisories for that lake.
- Reduce the spread of exotic species. Clean-off your boat, motor and trailer of all weeds and empty your livewell before leaving the access, dispose of bait and all litter properly – in the trash.
- You can get stewardship tips for anglers through the nonprofit = Recycled Fish.
Hunting: Get the lead out!
Because of the toxic affect on waterfowl, duck and goose hunters have been required to use non-toxic ammunition for years. Many of these widely available shotgun loads are also very effective on upland and other small game, so make the switch to go lead free when hunting small game.
Studies are indicating that small lead fragments often are present in hunter-harvested venison, particularly ground venison. In addition, there is research indicating other animals, especially raptors, may be exposed to harmful levels of lead from gutpiles during the deer hunting season. New deer hunting ammunition options are showing up on store shelves, however, and many sporting goods are now carrying copper slugs and bullets. Look and ask for them at your favorite store before going big game hunting in the fall.
Lead information for hunters from the DNR, including summary of recent research can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/lead/index.html