Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Possible Lead Sinker Ban in the State of WI

( Photo: An adult Bald Eagle dying of lead poisoning. )

I did a spot on channel 7 last night on the lead fishing tackle issue. Lead sinkers are banned by the European Union. Lead sinkers have been banned in Great Britain since 1987. Both the Canadian Wildlife Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service have bans on federal lands. Many states including New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts have a ban as well. Am I the only one who feels a little embarrassed that we fall so far behind other countries in this aspect?

Change is always hard, but lead is a toxin and we have new alternatives. It seems to me, allowing our sportsmen and their families to continue to be exposed to a known toxin is wrong, even a liability, for our state since we know, 100% know and acknowledge, lead is toxic. It is a poison not only to birds but to humans. We hear much about the increased cost of lead alternative sinkers. Are they more expensive? Did you ever notice that specifics of how much more expensive are not discussed? I am a fisherman. I just bought 100 non-lead sinkers for a little over eight dollars ( $8.00). 100 lead sinkers are $6.00. One hundred sinkers lasts a long time. We are talking about $2.00 to save loons, Trumpeter Swans and Eagles. Like I said, I am not sure what the fray is about, other than change is hard. I don't understand, but I assure you my grandchildren are not going to be exposed to lead poisoning.

The Lead Analyzer we use at REGI was developed to do blood lead testing on children usually in the inner cities. Now, we use the same machine to test the blood of Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans and Loons as well as other wildlife. The analyzer is not needed as much for children since paint has been lead free since the mid 1970's in our country.

I am old enough to remember the arguments of paint manufacturers when a ban of lead in paint was being considered. Heated discussions ensued with claims ranging from a ban being "Un-American", to manufacturers would be forced out of business because the plants would need to be re-tooled for the production of lead free paint. There were claims banning lead in paint would be a financial disaster for the U.S. economy.

That was thirty ( 30 ) short years ago. Last winter a toy produced in China was found to have a tiny bit of lead in a single color on the toy. The toy was immediately taken from the shelves. Parents were up in arms over China trying to poison our children. The swing of the pendulum of popular opinion is obvious!

Lead poisoning causes brain damage, neurological problems, seizures and organ failure. We know this. Lead Poisoning is well studied. Literature is readily available. As for me and my family, there is no question what the right answer is.

( Photo: Lead sinkers and lead shot in the digestive system of a Trumpeter Swan.)

Sadly, sportsmen are being taken advantage of with impassioned words from the sport fishing community that promote half truths. As a fisherman myself I am angry my fellow fishermen are being taken advantage in such a way. I ask everyone to make up your own mind. Do your own research. Don't allow only the vested interests of some to create your opinion.

I know personally that fishing and hunting are expensive sports. If you cannot afford an extra $2.00 every few years for non-lead sinkers, then take advantage of our free lead sinker exchange at REGI. We can provide a lot of lead free sinkers for fishermen with the up to $2000 in CA EDTA it takes to treat a single Bald Eagle or Trumpeter Swan for lead poisoning. The last year we had 11 Bald Eagles, 14 Trumpeter Swans and 5 loons with lead poisoning. The is $60,000 in medication alone to help these protected species for the public to continue to enjoy and our economy to continue to benefit through tourism. We get no state or federal funding to help defray this cost. Please think about it and do the right thing.

Marge Gibson 2010

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