Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Get the Lead Out!

Post contributed by Martin Tow, Conservation Corps of Minnesota Youth Outdoors crew member:

Anglers can help prevent lead poisoning.
May 9th was the beginning of the 2015 fishing season in the Land of 10,000 lakes. This comes as great news for the many anglers in this state who have been anxiously awaiting the chance to get out on the water. However, as we prepare our tackle boxes with our favorite jigs and lures, we need to take a closer look at what they are made of. Any lead jigs or sinkers can have adverse effects on our environment, and especially our state bird, the common loon.
                Loons routinely swallow pea-sized pebbles on the bottom of lakes. The pebbles pass to the stomach and help in digestion, like grit in the stomach of a chicken. When fishing sinkers are lost during fishing and drop to the bottom of the lake, they can be picked up by loons or by waterfowl like ringneck ducks and trumpeter swans. Some loons also swallow fishing jigs when they mistake them for minnows. As the lead sinker or jig is exposed to the acids of the stomach and to other pebbles, lead enters the bird's system and slowly poisons the bird.
There are many alternatives to lead tackle!
                A great way to help is by teaching good stewardship to young anglers. Outfit kids' tackle boxes with non-lead weights. They are nontoxic and safer for youngsters to handle. Plus, inexperienced anglers tend to lose the most sinkers, so you'll be cutting down on the amount of lead getting left behind in Minnesota lakes and rivers.
                In a growing number of areas outside Minnesota, non-lead tackle isn't just a good idea — it's the law. So why not make the switch to non-toxic jigs and sinkers; the fish will still bite and the loons will be protected. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency maintains a list of manufacturers and retailers that offer lead-free tackle, so you don’t have to waste time running from store to store. Thank you for doing your part to help keep Minnesota’s many lakes and rivers clean. Good luck fishing!
It takes only one lead sinker or jig to poison a loon.