Lead Tackle Exchange

loon entangled in fishing line

This loon is entangled in a mess of line that includes a lead sinker. If the loon ingests this lead, it will die. Photo courtesy of Keith R. Carver.

You Can Save a Loon’s Life

There are two easy ways you can help protect loons:

1.Retrieve all fishing tackle and broken line when you are fishing. Be sure to dispose of the broken fishing line in a trash receptacle to prevent it from entangling wildlife.

2. Use only non-toxic fishing tackle. Sinkers and jigs do not have to be made out of lead. Inexpensive, effective, and safe alternatives have been developed from non-toxic materials like tin, bismuth, steel, and ceramic. They work just as well as lead. Get the lead out by buying non-toxic tackle and swapping your existing lead pieces for non-toxic alternatives. These alternatives are safer for water birds and anglers alike.

Lead poisoning is the number one cause of death of adult loons in New England and has been linked to loon deaths on our ponds. Lead poisoning symptoms may be severe and fast. They include disorientation and lethargy, making diving and flying difficult, and ultimately leading to death.

When loons forage the bottom of lakes for gravel (which their gizzards use to break down fish bones), they not only ingest gravel but also anything else laying on the bottom, like lead sinkers and jigs. Birds also may ingest lead when feeding on fish that are attached to lead fishing tackle or, like the loon above, when simply trying to get free from entanglement in fishing line that has tackle on it.

For this reason, lead sinkers and bare-lead-headed jigs under 1 oz. and less than 2.5 inches long were banned in Maine in September 2017.

Exchange your lead tackle for non-toxic alternatives at Coastal Rivers – for FREE

Through Coastal Rivers’ Lead Tackle Exchange Program, begun by PWA in 2013, anglers can bring in their lead sinkers and jigs and exchange them for non-lead alternatives for FREE. Contact Sarah Gladu at 207-563-1393, or email sgladu@coastalrivers.org.

With the leadership of volunteers, PWA (now Coastal Rivers) has supplied the two main campgrounds on Pemaquid Pond with tackle exchange materials to help expand the program’s reach.

Coastal Rivers’ Lead Tackle Exchange Program, is made possible through partnership with the Maine Audubon Society and the Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District.

pile of lead tackle

This pile of lead was retrieved from the bottom of a pond.