Concord, NH – The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) want to remind anglers about the ban on the sale and freshwater use of lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less for all freshwater in the state. The Loon Preservation Committee recently recorded its first lead-poisoned loon of the year.
In 2021, a total of seven adult loons and one immature loon in New Hampshire were confirmed to have died from lead poisoning after ingesting lead sinkers and jigs weighing up to 0.17 ounces. These loons were discovered on lakes or ponds in Antrim, Enfield, Errol, Pittsburg, Stark, Sunapee, Sutton, and Tamworth. An eighth adult loon also died from ingested lead tackle in New Hampshire, however this loon was collected during the fall migration period and therefore may not have been from the New Hampshire breeding population.
To address this issue and help anglers dispose of lead sinkers and jigs they can no longer use, LPC and NHFG have partnered with nine local tackle retailers to offer a lead tackle buyback program. From now through the end of the year, or until this season’s initial 2,000 certificates are claimed, anglers can exchange one ounce or more of banned lead tackle (jigs and sinkers) for a $10 gift certificate redeemable at these participating shops: The Tackle Shack (Meredith NH), LL Cote (Errol NH), Pawtuckaway Trading Post (Raymond NH), Squam Boat Livery, Inc. (Holderness NH), Rocky’s Ace Hardware (New London, NH), Newfound Sales & Trading Post (Bristol, NH), Pinnacle Sports (West Lebanon, NH), The Loon Center (Moultonborough, NH), and The Tackle Shack (Newbury, NH). Only banned tackle (lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less) is eligible for exchange as part of the buyback program, but additional tackle out of this size range can be turned in. One exchange transaction is permitted per customer. Full details of the buyback and participating shops can be found at www.loonsafe.org. The list will be updated as new retailers join the program. In addition to the $10 voucher, at the end of the year, the program participants who turned in the largest and second-largest amounts of eligible tackle at each participating retail location will receive cash prizes of $100 and $50, respectively.
The LPC and NHFG are working cooperatively with many other organizations to educate anglers about the effects of lead poisoning on loons. Fish Lead Free is a multipartner, region-wide initiative dedicated to providing resources for anglers across New England to help them make the switch to lead-free tackle. Safe alternatives to lead tackle, made of steel, tungsten, tin, bismuth, and other materials, are effective and available. Get more tips and tactics for fishing lead free at www.wildnh.com/fishing/get-the-lead-out.html.
Collection receptacles for old lead tackle can be found at all New Hampshire Fish and Game offices, numerous transfer stations, and other sites throughout the state. An interactive map of disposal sites is available at https://loon.org/loonsafe/shops-and-disposal-sites/.
The Loon Preservation Committee (www.loon.org) works to protect loons throughout the state as part of its mission to restore and maintain a healthy population of loons in New Hampshire, to monitor the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality, and to promote a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (www.wildnh.com) works in partnership with the public to conserve, manage, and protect the state’s fish, wildlife, and marine resources and their habitats; inform and educate the public about these resources; and provide the public with opportunities to use and appreciate these resources.