I am sad to report that Senate Bill 224 to increase protections of loons from lead fishing tackle was referred to interim study by the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee this past Tuesday. This means that, with the concurrence of the full House, the Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee will convene a sub-committee over the summer to debate and issue a report with recommendations on how best to address this problem.
Throughout this process, the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) worked to bring the results of peer-reviewed research to light to encourage informed discussion of this important issue for loons and other wildlife. We welcome the opportunity to once again present our findings to members of the committee and answer their questions about this critical problem for our loons, but the referral to interim study means the bill will not be passed this legislative session. We remain very disappointed that a significant factor in this outcome was the opposition of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission to the bill as amended by the Senate.
Thank you to all of those who contacted Fish and Game Commissioners and state legislators - your calls, emails and letters focused attention on this important issue for loons and they did make a difference. We knew from past experience that there would be significant opposition to this bill from certain fishing groups and lead tackle manufacturers. However, it was a fight we needed to undertake to protect our loon population, and with your help, we were able at least to reach the legislative equivalent of a draw. NH Lakes and LPC will be active participants in the study committee process and continue to encourage responsible actions that protect our loons and other wildlife from lead fishing tackle.
Thank you again for your work to help us inform our decision-makers and protect New Hampshire's loons; we could not have made it this far without your enthusiastic support, and we will continue to update you on our progress to address this issue.
Harry S. Vogel
Senior Biologist/Executive Director
Loon Preservation Committee