Great Lakes Aquarium Educates Public on Harms of Using Lead Lures

DULUTH, Minn.– In light of fishing season, the Great Lakes Aquarium is raising awareness about the harmful consequences of using lead lures and their impact on the loon population in Minnesota.

Lead poisoning is one of the main causes of death in loons and Great Lakes Aquarium is partnering with Get the Lead out Minnesota to raise awareness about the hazards of fishing with lead lures and are encouraging people to begin to fish lead-free.

25% of loon deaths are caused by lead poisoning nation-wide, according to aquarium leadership, by eating fish in which lures have gotten stuck in. The lead travels into their digestive system and the acid from lead begins to break their internal organs down.

“A loon that ingests even the smallest piece of lead fishing tackle will die within two or three weeks, they are just not found, if they are found, they are so sick that the only humane thing to do is to euthanize them,” Kelly Amoth, a Program Coordinator at Get the Lead out Minnesota, said.

Bald eagles also suffer from lead poisoning ingestion but their chances of being found sick, and nursed back to health, are higher than that of loons.

As for loons, the issue is bigger than people tend to realize, and as the state bird of Minnesota, the Great Lakes Aquarium is hoping to get the word out fast.

“We want people to be out and enjoying the outdoors, but we also want them to realize that there are really simple ways that they can make swaps in their angling to protect the wildlife,” Alexis Berke, Director of Learning and Engagement at Great Lakes Aquarium, said.

During fishing season, the Aquarium hopes to encourage those heading out on trips up the North Shore to stop in and drop their lead tackle off in the drop box in the aquariums lobby. In return, they will give you a lead-free sampler pack presented by ‘Get the Lead out Minnesota’ to try instead.

The box will be in the lobby all summer and tickets are not required to go in to make your drop-off.

Authorities also suggest calling local household hazardous waste companies to find out alternate ways to dispose of your lead tackle.

To learn more about loons and the dangers of lead, click here.

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