Lead-Free to Help Loons

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The Minnesota pollution control agency wants anglers to go lead-free to help out the loons.

The U.S. fish and wildlife service awarded Minnesota agencies more than $6 million from the settlement to help supports its loon population after researchers found traces of oil and the chemicals used to disperse the spill in the feathers, eggs and blood of birds in Minnesota.

About $1.2 million will go toward the public awareness campaign called “Get the Lead Out” over the next three years. While some states have total or partial bans on the use of lead sinkers and jigs, Minnesota’s lead-free campaign is voluntary.

Minnesota loons are especially susceptible to lead poisoning because they swallow pebbles at the bottom of lakes to help them grind up their food. When they accidentally pick up a lead jig or sinker off the bottom, all it takes is one split shot or one jig to kill the loon from lead poisoning.

The Minnesota pollution control agency estimates lead poisoning causes about 14% of loon deaths in the state.

“Its something that is totally avoidable if people simply learn to shop for nontoxic jigs and sinkers,” said the Minnesota pollution control. “Pointing out various lead-free alternatives made from materials like tin, steel, bismuth or tungsten.”

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