Wisconsin DNR Considers Ban of Lead-Based Fishing Tackle

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Some people are asking the DNR to ban lead in all fishing tackle, in hopes of protecting birds, but leaders at one local tackle company say a ban could hurt the fishing industry.

"Its no longer in the paint that we use. Its no longer in gasoline, and yet its still in fishing and hunting things," said Marge Gibson, Executive Director of R.E.G.I. in Antigo.

She says lead fishing tackle can get swallowed by loons, swans, and eagles, causing many of them to die.

"A piece of lead the size of a grain of sand can poison a human child, so it really doesn't take very much, and a sinker is quite a bit bigger than that," said Gibson.

But the president of an Antigo tackle company says a ban would cost anglers a lot of money.

"There's still a lot of people that feel, 'well I'm going to get hung up and lose my lure or jighead, and I don't want to throw extra money to the bottom of the lake,'" said Mepp's Fishing Tackle President Mike Sheldon.

He says his company uses brass to make their lures, but many other companies still use lead because its a cheaper metal. A ban could force those companies to make drastic cuts to stay in business.

"As manufacturers are put under pressure to keep their prices down, the natural reaction could be to go offshore with your productions, which I don't think anybody wants to do," said Sheldon.

DNR leaders have been listening to both sides and say they'll now look into voting on a ban sometime next year. Even if a ban were approved, it wouldn't likely be enforced until 2012.