Get the lead out!
Protect our wildlife by switching to non-lead tackle

Most fishing tackle currently available is made of lead. Lead is a toxic metal that is lethal for loons, trumpeter swans, bald eagles and other wildlife. Loons are poisoned when they inadvertently swallow lead jigs and sinkers while scooping up pebbles to help grind their food. About 20% of the dead loons turned in by private citizens died from lead poisoning.

Barb Loon_crop.jpg

Loons can frequently be seen on Lake Independence

CREDIT: Barb Zadeh 

A bird with lead poisoning will have physical and behavioral changes, including loss of balance, gasping, tremors, and impaired ability to fly. The weakened bird is more vulnerable to predators, or it may have trouble feeding, mating, nesting, and caring for its young. It becomes emaciated and often dies within two to three weeks after eating the lead.


The MN Pollution Control Agency has a new public awareness campaign called “Get the Lead Out” focusing on encouraging Minnesota anglers to switch to non-lead tackle. After a seven-year study proving that Minnesota loons winter in the Gulf of Mexico, the state was awarded $1.2 million from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. The MN Pollution Control Agency is using the money to fund the lead-free educational program, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For more information, see


Lead-free tackle from various manufacturers


LICA fishermen can help by switching to lead-free sinkers and jigs, telling your friends about the problem, and encouraging your favorite bait and tackle shop to carry lead-free products. The MN Pollution Control Agency has a list of tackle manufacturers using non-toxic metals:


(Lead is classified as hazardous waste. When you’re ready to make the switch, collect all of your old lead tackle and take it to Hennepin County’s hazardous waste disposal site in Brooklyn Park.)