Get the Lead Out!?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by Katie Flavin

Right now there is great debate revolving around an iconic Maine bird and a popular recreational pastime.  Did you guess it?  Loons and fishing.  If you ever spend time near a lake or pond in the summer, you are probably familiar with the echoes and yodels of the common loon, which can be heard throughout the state of Maine.

It has been found that 44%, almost half, of adult loons are dying from lead poisoning found in lead fishing gear. They are ingesting lead sinkers that they confuse with rocks, that they eat to help them digest their food. Loons are also eating fish that have ingested lead tackle.

Lead is a toxic metal that harms the nervous and reproductive systems of animals. Since the loons are eating lead fishing gear, it is also harming their digestive systems.

Photo courtesy of Maine Audubon

 The debate is whether to pass a bill that would ban the use and sale of lead sinkers and jigs.

Supporters say: “The bill is necessary because lead is the leading cause of death in adult loons.”

Opponents say: “The bill is unnecessary because the loon population is strong and it would cost fishermen too much to replace their gear.”

What do you think? Which side do you agree with?

Do you think there are other birds or animals affected by lead fishing tackle? How might this affect the ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine watershed?

Read the whole article here:

Maine is not the only state concerned with loons and lead.  Other states are also trying to pass a similar bill.  Find out more here:

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