Since we all have a bit more time at home these days, why not get the lead out of your tackle boxes?
Beginning April 1, Maine Audubon and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are partnering with local retailers to provide $10 store vouchers to anglers who turn in at least one ounce of lead tackle at participating stores. Maine state law bans the use and sale of lead sinkers and lead-headed jigs weighing one ounce or less or measuring 2 ½” or less.
The vouchers can be redeemed towards the purchase of non-lead tackle at Dag’s Bait Shop in Auburn, Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville, BackWoods Bait and Tackle in Chesterville, and other retailers to be announced. Retailers don’t receive any profits through this program, so we’re grateful to stores who are joining us to kick off the program and help anglers make the switch to lead-free tackle.
The program will provide a no-cost way for people to try out lead-free alternatives and help protect loons and other wildlife. Despite restrictions, lead poisoning from fishing tackle remains a leading cause of mortality for adult loons in Maine. During a 25-year study period from 1987-2012, discarded or lost lead fishing gear was responsible for nearly a third (28%) of all adult loon deaths in Maine. If a loon ingests even a small amount of lead, it will become disoriented and die a short time later.
For many years, Maine Audubon has helped local groups host tackle exchanges and get non-lead tackle into anglers’ hands by providing lead-free tackle samples. The new Lead Tackle Buyback Program takes a different approach by partnering with trusted local retailers, who know the products and the anglers better than anyone. The Program also gives anglers a wider variety of non-lead products to choose from, including tackle made from tungsten, bismuth, and steel.
Thanks to funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, we’re excited to be able to partner with up to five retailers to distribute over 300 vouchers statewide, so visit our website for the most up-to-date list of participating stores. The program will last until March 2021 or until all the vouchers are gone.
So, when it’s safe to get out, bring your lead-headed jigs or sinkers to one of the participating stores to receive a voucher and redeem it for $10 off your choice of lead-free tackle. Please help us get the word out and thank you for doing your part to safeguard Maine’s wildlife! Find out more about the Fish Lead Free Initiative or click here for the most up-to-date list of participating stores.Fish Lead Free Flyer