Nature Matters: Get The Lead Out For Loons

By KBJR News 1

July 22, 2014 Updated Jul 22, 2014 at 6:45 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)

Last week, Verne Wagner of Duluth was relaxing at his cabin on the Whiteface Reservoir when he noticed this bird watching him.

"And I looked down and three to four feet away was a loon on the beach and beached itself." said Wagner.

Wagner, who spent nine years helping people as a Red Cross volunteer, turned his attention to the bird.
He took it to the licensed rehabilitators at Wildwoods in Duluth.
They suspected lead poisoning. By that time it was too late and the loon didn't survive.
Now, the Whiteface is short one state bird.

"The mate was swimming around and has been calling and calling for her mate." said Wagner.

The Minnesota DNR reports that 50% of loon deaths are caused by ingesting cast off lead sinkers and jigs.
They suggest that anglers get the lead out of their tackle boxes as soon as possible and switch to non–toxic tackle.

"Fish don't mind the difference. They bite on the non–lead jigs." said fishing expert Dave Zentner of the Izaak Walton League.

"Like a lot of Northlanders, Verne Wagner is also a fisherman and he says he's already gotten rid of the lead from his tackle box." said reporter Dave Anderson.

"For me, it is kind of like, hey, I can make that switch.
From now on, when I buy new tackle, I can make it the non–toxic, non–leaded jigs and sinkers and I can get by with that." said Wagner.

In Duluth for Nature Matters, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

The Minnesota DNR wants anglers making the switch to remember that lead is poisonous so old tackle should be recycled at a licensed hazardous waste facility.