Sandra Falicon: (603) 271-3511
John Kanter: (603) 271-2461
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
May 27, 2004

Ban on Lead Fishing Tackle Strengthened

CONCORD, N.H. -- A new state law will expand the prohibition on the use of certain sizes of lead sinkers and jigs to all fresh waters in New Hampshire as of January 2005, and will ban the sale of this tackle statewide beginning January 1, 2006.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has for years encouraged anglers to safely dispose of old lead sinkers and jigs and replace them with nonlead alternatives because of the health hazard lead tackle presents for loons and other wildlife. In 2000, New Hampshire became the first state to ban the use of lead sinkers one ounce or less and jigs less than one inch long on freshwater lakes and ponds, to protect wildlife from this toxic substance. The new law will extend the ban to rivers and streams, effectively making the tackle illegal to use on any fresh waterbody in the state; additionally, beginning January 1, 2006, the law prohibits the sale of these lead sinkers and jigs statewide.

"The new law is an important step in continuing to reduce human impacts on wildlife. The earlier law and educational campaign alerted people to the dangers of lead tackle to wildlife and the ready availability of nonlead alternatives, but the reality is that loons are still dying from lead poisoning," said John Kanter, Coordinator of Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. "Hopefully, the wider ban implemented by the new law will finally help us get lead out of the fragile environment we share with these threatened birds."

Most anglers have been supportive about making the change from lead tackle, according to Mark Beauchesne, coordinator of Fish and Game's Let's Go Fishing program. "Anglers know that it's the right thing to do and continue to do their part by using the many great alternatives to lead tackle that are now available."

Beauchesne recommends that freshwater anglers check over their tackle boxes and remove any lead sinkers and jigs. Dispose of them safely at:

  • N.H. Fish and Game offices (Concord, Durham, Keene, Lancaster and New Hampton) and state fish hatcheries (for locations, call 603-271-3211).
  • Household Hazardous Waste Collections, held throughout the state from April through June. Call the N.H. Department of Environmental Services at (603) 271-3503, or visit:
  • The Loon Preservation Committee's visitor center on Lee's Mills Road in Moultonborough; visit

Loons that die from ingesting lead sinkers or jigs usually die within a matter of weeks. It is believed that loons and other water birds ingest lead by eating fish that have swallowed a lead sinker; or by striking at a jig pulled through the water; or that they pick up the tackle when they sift through mud at the bottom of lakes for pebbles and grit they need to aid in grinding their food. Lead poisoning accounted for more than half of the loon deaths in a research project conducted by the Loon Preservation Committee and Tufts University.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats.

Go to "The Nonlead Tackle Advantage"

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