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Getting the Lead Out!

A new law in New Hampshire went into effect on June 1, 2016, banning the sale and freshwater use of lead fishing sinkers and jigs (lead-weighted hooks) weighing one ounce or less. The new law does not apply to lead core line, spinner baits, buzz baits, spoons, poppers, plugs or flies. State law already prohibits the use of certain size lead sinkers and jigs in all fresh waters of New Hampshire. The new ban will prohibit the use and sale of lead sinkers and jigs weighing 1 ounce or less, regardless of length. Anglers are encouraged to make the transition to non-lead tackle alternatives as soon as possible. "It’s the right thing to do, not just for loons, but for all wildlife that may ingest lead sinkers and jigs," says NH Fish and Game Department Fisheries Division Chief Jason Smith. Many safe, effective alternatives to lead tackle are available, including tackle made of steel, tungsten, tin, bismuth and many other materials Loons and other water birds can die from lead poisoning after swallowing lead fishing sinkers and jigs lost by anglers. Biologists have studied the effects of lead sinkers and jigs on water birds like loons and swans since the 1970s. Ongoing research has documented that, in the northeastern U.S. and Canada, where loons breed, lead sinkers or jigs can account for up to half of dead adult loons found by researchers. A loon will die from lead poisoning approximately two to four weeks after ingesting lead tackle.