News & Notes


Maine Loons Protection Bill Becomes Law

Friday, June 28th, 2013
Posted on:
Loon 2 - June LeDuc

photo by: June LeDuc

For Immediate Release

June 28, 2013

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
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Maine Loons Protection Bill Becomes Law
Legislation passes with strong bipartisan support

FalmouthMaine Audubon announced today that LD 730, An Act to Protect Maine’s Loons by Banning Lead Sinkers and Jigs, passed into law. Senator Anne Haskell (D), sponsor of the bill, garnered strong bipartisan support from the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, as well as the House and Senate. The Senate approved the bill 35-0.

LD 730 bans the sale and use of lead fishing sinkers one ounce or less, as well as bare lead-headed jigs 2.5” long or less. The law is phased-in with first phases beginning this fall with the ban on the use and sale of lead sinkers and ending September 1, 2017 with the ban on the use of lead headed jigs 2.5” or less in length.

Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death of adult loons in Maine. It is responsible for close to one third of the documented mortality over the past 25 years. For every two loons that die in Maine from natural causes like illness or disease, one loon dies from ingesting a small lead sinker or jig-head. Adult loons catch fish with lead sinkers and jigs attached or they pick up lead objects while eating gravel they need from lake bottoms. A sinker is a weight clipped onto a fishing line and a jig is a hook with an embedded weight, usually at the top near the eye.

“Loons are one of our state’s wildlife treasures,” said Senator Haskell of Portland, the sponsor of the bill. “The bill will reduce this human-caused mortality and help protect Maine’s loons for future generations.”

In 2002, the Maine State Legislature passed a law that banned the sale of lead fishing sinkers one-half ounce or less. The law, along with an extensive outreach campaign and multi-year lead-tackle exchange program, helped increase both the availability of nontoxic alternatives at retailers and also anglers’ willingness to try these new products.

“I’m very pleased that this bill passed with strong bipartisan support,” noted Representative Paul T. Davis, Sr. (R) of Sangerville. “The Committee worked diligently to craft legislation that is a win-win for loons and anglers. The bill reduces the risk of lead poisoning for loons, gives the fishing tackle industry time to develop additional lead-free jig and sinker alternatives and the public has time to adapt and get the lead out of their tackle boxes.”

Representative Mike Shaw (D) of Standish, cosponsor of LD 730 and House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, noted that availability of lead-free jigs and sinkers makes it easy to protect Maine’s loons. “Maine’s sportsmen and women can get the lead out of their tackle boxes, invest in toxic-free tackle and enjoy the loons on our Maine ponds and lakes – it’s the right thing to do.”

Maine Audubon is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Maine Loon Project this summer. The Project conducts an annual loon count to assess the status of loons in Maine. Please visit www.maineaudubon.org/loons to learn how to get involved.

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About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
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