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Decision Time- Loons or Lead Fishing Jigs
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P.O. Box 604
183 Lee's Mill Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254



Senate Bill 224 to increase protections of loons from toxic lead fishing jigs will be heard before the House Committee on Fish and Game and Marine Resources this coming Tuesday, April 24, at 1:00 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building. Your calls, emails and letters to every member of this committee (contact information below) between now and next Tuesday will be the most important thing you can do this year to assure a future for New Hampshire's loons.


We have had significant and heavy-handed opposition to this bill. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission's split vote to oppose Senate Bill 224 was a major disappointment from the state agency entrusted to protect our wildlife, and especially state-threatened species like loons. This decision was based on objections, many based on misinformation, from a number of angling groups and lead tackle retailers. These same groups have now focused their attention on the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. The American Sportfishing Association has spread misinformation widely about this issue, and urged members from across the country to contact our New Hampshire legislators. Some legislators have received over 200 emails! Now they need to hear from you, local friends of loons.


The Importance of SB 224 for New Hampshire's Loons


Senate Bill 224 as amended by the Senate would leave existing regulations (restricting the use and sale of lead sinkers 1 ounce or less and lead jigs less than 1 inch in length) in place through 2014. In January of 2015, it would increase restrictions on the use of lead-headed jigs to include those less than 2.5 inches in length, and it would restrict the sale of those lead-headed jigs beginning in 2018. The change from a weight to a length standard and the extended phase-in period were both concessions in response to concerns raised by those opposing the bill.


Our loon population remains far below historical levels and the number of loon pairs on New Hampshire's lakes decreased in 2011, after a record-high number of deaths from ingested lead tackle in 2010. This decrease occurred despite record levels of management and outreach in recent years, and we have projected continued declines as a result of a number of stressors, primarily lead deaths, unless we address these issues.  


We Need Your Help!


We have a steep hill to climb to gain the support of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee in view of the concerted efforts of certain fishing groups and the lead tackle lobby. We will have to work harder than ever to bring this bill out of committee with a convincing vote and then on to the final stage, a vote by the full House. Your help with the following actions will make all the difference in securing these critical protections for our loons:


1. Please contact as many of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee members as you can between now and next Tuesday, April 24th to express your support for loons and the important protections in SB 224.


2. If you can, please attend the hearing and be on record as supporting the bill, whether or not you choose to testify in support.


3. Please follow this link to add your name to a petition in support of this critical legislation. We are at over 500 names, and I hope to top 1,000 before next Tuesday!


4. Please distribute this email as widely as you can to friends of loons and other wildlife in New Hampshire.


Numbers matter in the House; the more people committee members hear from, the more likely they will take our concerns to heart and vote to save loons and other wildlife from this needless cause of death.


Next Tuesday will be a critical day for loons in New Hampshire. I hope I will be able to report that loons won out over toxic lead fishing tackle. It's in our power to make it so.


Thank you for your continued support of our loons!

Harry's signature

Harry S. Vogel

Senior Biologist/Executive Director

Loon Preservation Committee


P.S.- Please scroll down for a short history of SB 224 and see sidebar for a link to "Loons & Lead: A Dozen Details" for more information.

HouseCommitteeHouse Fish & Game and Marine Resources Committee

** Please note that some of these are home numbers as representatives do not have offices.


Chairman: Clifford Newton- (603)-332-5643


V. Chairman: Dennis Reed-


Clerk: Joe Duarte-; 603-483-8454


Betsy McKinney-; 603-432-5232


Michael McCarthy-; 603-598-4966 


Tyler Simpson-; 603-968-9285


James Webb-; 603-845-3454


Benjamin Lefebvre-; 603-677-2722


Lyle Bulis- 603-444-5024


Leo Pepino-; 603-624-1476


Norman Tregenza-; 603-733-6736


Daniel Carr-; 603-239-6830


Dick Patten- 603-228-1803


Elisabeth Sanders- 603-642-5070


Richard Okerman-; 603-893-7705


Marc Tremblay-; 603-752-1995


David Watters-; 603-749-4539


Jenna Roberts-; 603-868-7402

HistorySB224A Short History of Senate Bill 224


The NH Lakes Association and the Loon Preservation Committee are the primary advocates behind Senate Bill 224 that will increase the restrictions on lead fishing tackle - the primary known cause of death of adult loons in New Hampshire. SB 224 is opposed by certain bass fishing organizations and some tackle retailers because of the perceived economic affects it would have on individual anglers and the tackle industry. The major arguments are laid out below, followed by the version of the bill as passed by the NH Senate on March 28th.


In response to the concerns expressed about the science, we effectively defended extensive peer-reviewed scientific research - specific to New Hampshire lakes - that supports the following unequivocal position: Fully half of adult loons collected by the Loon Preservation Committee and necropsied by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine died as a result of ingested lead fishing tackle. Remnants of lead jig heads weighing up to 0.74 ounces have been found in loons. Lead tackle is having a population-level impact on New Hampshire's state-threatened loon population. 


In response to the concerns expressed about definitions and enforceability, NH Fish and Game Department staff reviewed its definitions of fishing lures, correlated that with the range of jigs and other lures currently being sold, and consulted its law enforcement counterparts. The agency staff provided us with more precise language to describe jigs, the names of other types of lures that would not be affected by SB 224, and advised that a length-based definition of prohibited lead jigs would be more enforceable than a weight-based definition.


In response to concerns about the economic impact, we conducted extensive research and produced documentation and non-lead tackle that illuminated two things: 1. That the potential economic impacts as expressed by some of the bill's opponents have been grossly exaggerated, and 2. That delaying the implementation of the bill would alleviate most of the impacts that might otherwise occur. Non-lead jig alternatives are presently on the market, the price of which are less than, equal to or only slightly greater than lead-based tackle. By delaying implementation for over two years, tackle inventories of both individual anglers and retailers will naturally turn over, allowing both groups to gradually replace their inventories with non-lead alternatives to comply with the law.


The March 16, 2012 proposed amendment to SB 224 reflected several significant compromises being offered by us, the proponents. First, we moved from a weight standard to a length standard in response to concerns about enforceability. Second, we proposed a length standard of 2.5", a length that market research showed corresponded to ounce jigs (a drop from the originally proposed 1 ounce standard). Third, to alleviate the economic concerns, we proposed that the law take effect January 1, 2015.


On March 22, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the version of SB224 as described above. On March 28, the full Senate also passed this version of the bill on a floor vote and then amended it further to make the new lead use prohibitions effective January 1, 2015, and the sale of the prohibited lead jigs effective January 1, 2018.

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