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A Call for Action- The Loons Need Your Help!     

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Northeast Loon Study Working Group (NELSWG) meeting
March 15-16, 2012 @ LPC
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P.O. Box 604
183 Lee's Mill Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254



New Hampshire's loons need our help!  In 2010 (the latest year for which we have complete data), LPC collected 11 loons that died of lead poisoning after ingesting lead fishing tackle - a record number.  In response to this unsustainable level of mortality, LPC and NH LAKES are working together to present our data to the New Hampshire Legislature and protect loons from this entirely preventable cause of death.   


Loon life history is characterized by low rates of natural adult mortality, delayed maturation (average age of first breeding is 6-7 years), and low productivity (an average of about a chick per pair, per year in New Hampshire). Adult survival is by far the largest factor influencing the growth and viability of New Hampshire's loon population; therefore, addressing adult mortality factors is of prime importance to the continued viability of loon populations.


The growth of New Hampshire's loon population since 1975 has been accomplished through intensive management supported by the extensive contributions of a dedicated corps of volunteers. This exceptional effort has helped loons to overcome some of the negative consequences of human activities over the past 37 years. One of the most evident and successful of LPC's management activities is the provision of artificial nesting rafts to loon pairs. In 2010, despite a record number of nesting rafts floated by LPC staff and volunteers, the benefit to our loon population of our intensive raft program was entirely negated by just 11 pieces of lead tackle.


Lead has by far the largest impact in limiting New Hampshire's loon population growth and viability of any currently quantified stressors, including nest failures, boat collisions, monofilament entanglement and mercury.  It is critical to address issues like lead fishing tackle that can be mitigated through relatively simple measures like material substitutions.  Our data indicate that changing the currently legislated jig standard to a weight standard of one ounce, as proposed in recently introduced legislation, would be protective of loons.


Please consider writing a strong letter of support

to help protect loons from lead poisoning. See below for more information on how to contact your senators.


Thank you for your help,

 Harry's signature

Harry Vogel

Senior Biologist/Executive Director


Advocacy Alert Issued by The New Hampshire Lakes Association (NH LAKES)

  • Legislation restricting the use of lead in fishing sinkers weighing one ounce or less and lead fishing jigs measuring less than one inch took effect in 2000 in the State of New Hampshire.
  • This legislation has not been as effective as loon advocates had hoped. In 2010, New Hampshire lost a record 11 adult loons to ingested lead fishing tackle. Lead is fatal to loons.
  • Senate Bill 224 has been introduced to close a loop hole in the current law which allows lead fishing jigs weighing less than one ounce but measuring longer than one inch to be used.

This bill has encountered stiff opposition from bass fishing advocates and tackle industry representatives. A series of meetings is now taking place to try to reach mutual understanding and greater consensus.


We need the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to pass SB 224 on March 8th to keep the bill, and ultimately loons, alive.

What can you do?
  • First, read more about the lethal effects of lead on loons by reading the "Dozen Details" below.
  • Second, read the complete February 25th NH LAKES Advocacy Alert and learn more about the bill by visiting New Hampshire Lakes Association.
  • Third, call, email or write to the members of this Senate Committee in support of Senate Bill 224.

Senator Bob Odell: 271-4063


Senator John Gallus: 271-3076


Senator Jeb Bradley: 271-8472


Senator Gary Lambert: 271-2609


Senator Amanda Merrill: 271-3207


Please do this before March 8th, perhaps the last day for the bill to be taken up by this committee!

DozenDetailsLoons & Lead: A Dozen Details 


1. Loons are designated a Threatened Species in New Hampshire and face growing challenges throughout the state.


2. There have been 119 adult loon deaths caused by ingesting lead fishing tackle from 1989-2010. These 119 deaths represent 50% of the total adult loon mortalities collected by The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) during this time.


3. Lead sinkers weighing one ounce or less and lead jigs measuring less than an inch in length (including the hook) are presently illegal per RSA211:13-b,IV. New Hampshire enacted this legislation in 2000, the first in the Nation to do so. The proposed amendment would define a lead jig as a lead weighted hook that has a weight of one ounce or less. 

    • 21 years of data collected by LPC support this amendment.
    • Legal lead jigs have caused at least 24 loon deaths in the last 10 years.
    • Since 1989, we have averaged 5.7 loon deaths per year from ingesting lead fishing tackle.
    • Lead jigs are sold by weight and style- not by length.

4. Much of ingested lead tackle in lead poisoned loons comes from current fishing use.  Loon mortalities peak with the peak of tourism and fishing season.


5. Lead fishing tackle is the largest contributor to documented adult loon mortality in the state.


6. Adult loon survival is the largest factor influencing the growth & viability of NH's loon population.

    • The average life of a loon is thought to be 25-30 years
    • Loons do not breed until 6-7 years of age on average
    • Losing an adult loon is more than three times as bad as losing a chick as far as the loon population is concerned.

7. The growth of NH's loon population since 1975 has been accomplished by intensive management by LPC professionals and volunteers.


8. Humans, through lead poisoning from loons ingesting lead fishing tackle, caused the death of an average of 1.1% of the adult loon population each year from 1989-2010.  In 2010 this number reached 1.8%.


9. LPC's intensive raft program produced 33 chicks in 2010This productivity was more than negated by 11 adult loon deaths from ingested lead fishing tackle in 2010.


10. Lead poisoning occurs when ingested lead is absorbed into the blood stream. Lead is fatal to loons. A loon with lead poisoning will die within 2-4 weeks after ingesting lead tackle.


11. If we had not lost 119 adult loons to lead over the last 21 years, our adult loon population of approximately 550 adult loons would be much larger.


12. Reasonable and better non-toxic alternatives to lead jigs and weights are available.


LPC logoNH Lakes logo



(Compiled by The New Hampshire Lakes Association and The Loon Preservation Committee)

The Loon Preservation Committee is dedicated to restoring and maintaining a healthy population of loons throughout New Hampshire; monitoring the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and promoting a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.
Susie Burbidge
Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator