SB 224 to increase protection of loons from lead fishing tackle was heard by the House Fish & Game and Marine Resources Committee last Tuesday. Thank you to everyone who attended the hearing! Whether you testified in support or sat in the audience you all made a big impression. The hearing lasted for more than 5 hours and about 80 loon supporters wearing stickers that read "Vote for NH's Loons" filled the room. Senators Odell, Forrester and Bradley, Representatives Russell and Newton, Dr. Mark Pokras from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, staff and volunteers from LPC and NH Lakes Association, a longtime bass fisherman, a health practioner and many other concerned citizens testified in support of the bill. Members of the committee reviewed x-rays which showed ingested lead tackle from dead loons, charts and graphs illustrating the problems loons in New Hampshire are currently facing and a display of non-lead tackle that is readily available and reasonably priced.
Unfortunately even with the positive testimony given on the 24th, we are still facing an uphill battle. Testimony from the opposition, which consists primarily of bass organizations, was not based on scientific evidence but focused more on the perceived economic hardship New Hampshire would face if the bill passed. Even though implementation of this bill would phase in over six years, they felt it would still threaten the bass fishing industry in the state. We feel that our research has demonstrated the availability of comparably priced tackle, some of them cheaper than lead.
The Committee will probably be voting on SB 224 next Tuesday, May 1st. If you have not already contacted the House Committee members listed below, please call or email and ask for their support to protect our threatened loons in New Hampshire. Over a thousand people signed the online petition and there is still time if you would like to add your name.
Thank you for your continued support of our loons!
Harry S. Vogel
Senior Biologist/Executive Director
Loon Preservation Committee