Taking in the sounds and sights of the Common Loon is part of experiencing the natural splendor of New Hampshire lakes and ponds. So it is troublesome to read that lead poisoning continues to be the number one killer of our adult loons, as reported by the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC). The poignant photographs in the InterTown Record last week of first a healthy then dying loon on Pleasant Lake in New London tells the story and brings it close to home.
The side-by-side images, a loon in 2007 and then near death this July, show what happens when a loon ingests lead. It is always lethal.
“Loons must swallow small pebbles to stones to grind up the fish that they eat,” the InterTown reported. “One the small stones was a lead sinker and the loon died of lead poisoning within a week. “This prompted the Pleasant Lake Protective Association and community members to launch a campaign to “Get the Lead Out.”
The message is a simple one: Get lead sinkers and lures off fishing lines, out of tackle boxes and off store shelves.
“Lead sinkers still killing NH loons,” reports the AP July 21. In NH, legislation passed in 2000 prohibits the use of smaller size lead sinkers and jigs. However, the use of jigs 1” and larger is still legal and the larger lures also contribute to the death of loons.
The LPC out of Moultonborough has been studying loons for over 25 years and says, “Mortality studies have shown that lead sinkers and jigs are the primary cause of death of adult loons, while boat and personal watercraft collisions account for more chick deaths than any other cause.”
Another cause for the reduction in loons in NH is the loss of breeding habitat caused by shoreline development, says LPC.
Sunapee News welcomes reports of loon sightings, stories and images.
Visit CowHampshire for an interesting article about the uncommon Common Loon.
ADDED: Photo of three loons on Lake Sunapee courtesy of a Job’s Creek resident. It was taken in 2007.
She had a good suggestion: “Seems like the local Sunapee Harbor fishing events( ie. Rock Bass Derby) could monitor and dispose of lead sinkers and provide the alternative “steel” sinkers for the events. Most people just dont know what they can use. You still see lead sinkers for sale with fishing tackle everywhere.”