CONCORD — The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) want to remind anglers about the ban on 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 2019, a total of eight loons were confirmed to have died after ingesting lead sinkers and jigs up to 1.08 ounces. These loons were discovered on lakes or ponds across the state in Auburn, Barrington, Dublin, Holderness, Freedom, Gilford, Meredith, and Sandwich. An additional loon in Danbury died from lead poisoning after ingesting an unknown lead object. A loon will die from lead poisoning approximately two to four weeks after ingesting the lead.

To address this issue and help anglers dispose of lead sinkers and jigs they can no longer use, the LPC and NHFG have teamed up with eight local tackle shops 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 tackle (jigs and sinkers) for a $10 gift certificate redeemable at these participating shops: AJ’s Tackle (Meredith, NH), The Tackle Shack (Newbury, NH), Clarke’s Hardware (New London, NH), LL Cote (Errol, NH), Newfound Sales and Trading Post (Bristol, NH), Ossipee’s Bait and Tackle (Effingham, NH), Pawtuckaway Trading Post (Raymond, NH), and Squam Boat Livery, Inc. (Holderness, NH). Only banned tackle is eligible for exchange as part of the buyback program, and only 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.

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://loonsafe.org/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.

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