I know its Minnesota, but a lot of you fish on the east side of the Red River.
ENVIRONMENT: Bill would ban lead fishing sinkers that poison loons
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincitie ... 913111.htm
Small lead fishing sinkers that some studies show are killing loons would be banned in Minnesota under legislation introduced in the state Senate on Thursday.
The bill would prohibit the sale and use of lead sinkers 1 ounce or less in size.
Studies show that loons are dying when they ingest small lead sinkers and jigs. Results range from 3.5 percent to more than 80 percent of loons studied dying from lead tackle.
As little lead as a 1/16th-ounce sinker or jig can kill a loon within a matter of days.
The bill, S.F. 23, is sponsored by Sen. Yvonne Prettner-Solon, DFL-Duluth, and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, among other lawmakers.
"They are our state bird, and we are losing them from lead poisoning," Prettner-Solon said.
"There is no question that we have a loon reproduction problem," Bakk said. "How much of it is from mercury and how much is from lead, I'm not sure. But this will get a good public dialogue going."
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, said he was considering sponsoring similar legislation in the House.
The proposed legislation would not affect lead jigs.
The Minnesota Chapter of the National Audubon Society and the Minnesota Lakes Association also will raise the issue Saturday at the Department of Natural Resources' annual fishing roundtable sessions in St. Cloud.
The conservation groups hope the DNR will create a lead tackle stakeholders group that would craft a compromise to phase out lead sinkers in Minnesota.
The lead efforts affect many of the state's 2.3 million anglers, most of whom use lead sinkers and jigs to catch walleyes, crappies and other species. It also will affect the state's multimillion-dollar fishing tackle industry at the manufacturing and retail levels.
Because alternatives to lead are available, the lead ban isn't expected to drastically change how anglers fish in Minnesota. Many sizes, colors and shapes of lead alternatives - such as tin, iron and bismuth - are available from more than a dozen manufacturers nationally. But they cost more to make and buy.
Loons ingest lead tackle pieces by picking them up on purpose, apparently mistaking them for pebbles used to help digest their food. They also eat lead when they eat fish or minnows that have lead inside them or that are attached to tackle.
Minnesota has about 12,000 loons, the most of any state outside Alaska.
Their numbers appear to be holding their own despite the problems with lead, water quality, mercury pollution and habitat loss.
Dr. Mark Pokras, director of the Wildlife Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, said there's no doubt that lead tackle is killing loons, it's just not clear how many.
"What we do know is that many loons are dying from ingesting lead tackle. And we know that there are alternatives out there that can make this problem go away," Pokras said.