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Energy & Environment

Lead Killing Loons, Eagles

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A wildlife rehabilitation expert says anglers could go a long way to help two key members of the Northwoods bird family.

Mark Naniot from Wild Instincts Rehab near Rhinelander says many eagle and loons have been hit by lead poisoning...

"....lead fishing tackle, we're trying really hard to get the lead out of fishing equipment. Between Loons and (bald) Eagles we see a tremendous amount of lead poisoning these days. A lot of it is due to the fishing equipment we use...."

Naniot says an easy solution is for sportspeople to shift over to steel for the fishing tackle or ammunition.

"....there is an alternative which is just pennies more expensive than what the lead is, but the lead is highly toxic to the birds. So if the Loons ingest a jighead or a sinker, it's pretty much a done deal and they're going to perish from that. If people can use a safer alternative, that's a much better way to go...."

 Loons  come in contact with lead by picking up small stones and grit from the bottom of lakes to help them digest their food. Lead sinkers can be about the same size as these stones and so the loons might pick them up. In addition, loons eat fish that have ingested lead or even ingest fishing line with lead in it and still attached to a hook and bait fish. Eagles can pick up fish that have lead  or often eat lead left in dead animals by hunters.

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