NH’s loons and another call for help

“The haunting cry of the common loon is vanishing from many New England waters. Whether we hear it much longer depends on us.” - from “Call of the Wild: Loons” by Kristen Laine (Yankee magazine, July/August 2011)

The Loon Preservation Committee and The New Hampshire Lakes Association are asking for help to protect our loons by signing a petition in support of SB 224 and by contacting state legislators.  (For the I-petition, click here).

Photo by John Rockwood

Three weeks ago, Sunapee News wrote about Senate Bill 224, an amendment to existing law that tackles the use of lead fishing gear known to be killing New Hampshire’s loons.

Since that time, the Senate amended and passed SB 224 and sent it over to the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. (You can check the status of the bill, by clicking here.)

Last week, however, the state’s Fish and Game Commission voted 5-3 to oppose SB 224 “in a heartbreakingly close decision,” described by Harry Vogel, senior biologist and executive director of the Loon Preservation Committee.

“The commission’s decision will make it much harder to win this critical protection for our loons in the House,” Vogel wrote in a message to LPC supporters.

LPC knows about loons: It has studied loons for 35 years, and its data shows “lead fishing tackle is the largest contributor to documented adult loon mortality in the state.”

The loon population remains far below historical levels and the number of loon pairs on N.H.’s lakes decreased in 2011, after a record high number of deaths from ingested lead tackle in 2010. With multiple stressors impacting the population, the common loon remains a threatened species in the Granite State.

This takes us back to Laine’s article and words (from last summer), which express both a challenge and opportunity for today: “If having wildness in our lives is important, if we want to continue to hear the Far North cry of the loon across southern New England, we must intervene.”

Action

  1. Sign the I-petition in support of SB 224 (click here).
  2. Call, email, or write your State Representative (click here) and every member of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee (click here). Explain why you support the bill and ask them to support it, too.
  3. Contact The NH LAKES or the Loon Preservation Committee.

Background

>>  The NH Lakes Association’s summary of SB 224, as amended: “The current law would remain in effect until 2015 – with both the use and the sale of lead sinkers 1 ounce or less and lead jigs less than 1 inch in length prohibited. In 2015, prohibitions on the use (but not the sale) of lead jigs measuring less than 2.5 inches in length would go into effect. In 2018, prohibitions on the sale of lead jigs less than 2.5 inches would go into effect, making both the use and sale of the listed lead tackle prohibited.”

>> Loons and Lead: A Dozen Details (PDF 127kb) — published by LPC and NH Lakes

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