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Get the lead out

Fishing Wisconsin

Did you know that one lead split shot is enough to kill a twelve-pound loon?

Lead poisoning from ingested tackle usually occurs in one of two ways, a lead jig head is swallowed by a fish, or lost lead tackle is picked up along with small stones and grit from the bottom of lakes to help digest food. Fish, loons, eagles, trumpeter swans and many other wildlife species are consuming lead in one or both of these ways, and the results can be fatal.

Anglers can tackle lead

Lead fishing tackle has been used by generations of Wisconsin anglers. One of the goals of the Get the Lead Out! Wisconsin campaign is to bring awareness to anglers about lead poisoning in fish and other wildlife from lead tackle ingestion. Inexpensive and ecologically sound alternatives to lead fishing weights are available. Anglers can use sinkers and jigs made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, steel and tungsten-nickel alloy.

Dispose of Lead Tackle Properly

Your local scrap metal recycler may accept lead tackle. The Wisconsin Recycling Markets Directly provides a list of scrap metal collection sites that accept lead. Select “Metals” for the material category and “Lead” for the material subcategory. Lead is a heavy metal that leaches and should be stored in a puncture-proof plastic container.

For many households, throwing unwanted lead tackle into the trash may be the only option. Double bagging or sealing the tackle in a plastic container can help prevent lead from leaching into the landfill. Lead tackle should never go in household recycling bins.


Another great way to help is teaching good stewardship to young anglers. Outfit kids with tackle boxes with non-lead weights. They are non-toxic and safer for youngsters to handle. Plus, inexperienced anglers tend to lose the most sinkers, so you'll be cutting down on the amount of lead getting left behind in Wisconsin lakes and rivers.

For more information on lead

For research reports and further background information, visit the following Web sites: