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Lead tackle restriction not a sign of statewide change

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BOULDER JUNCTION, Wis. (WSAU) -- Lead based tackle is being restricted on three Vilas County lakes starting next month.

Greg Sass with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the change only affects three research lakes southeast of Boulder Junction.  “We’re changing the regulations and going to a non-lead tackle based restriction on Escanaba, Nebish and Pallette Lakes in the Northern Highland Fisheries Research Area. Here, we’ll be restricting the use of lead tackle greater than one ounce or greater than one inch in any dimension.”

The lead tackle restriction is going to benefit waterfowl more than fish.  “The purpose of this is to increase awareness of the risks of lead in the environment, particularly from split shots and jig heads that are smaller, and can be ingested by loons or water birds that could lead to lead poisoning if too much is ingested.”

Sass says there’s no plan to outlaw lead based tackle anywhere else in the state. He says the alternatives to lead are hard to find and expensive, but hopes those alternatives are cheaper and more available in the future.  “You can find tin in the stores. There’s other mixtures of things like tungsten and bisnet that are out there, but right now they’re a little bit expensive and they’re not marketed well in a lot of places, so the accessibility of non-toxic or non-lead tackle is a little bit limited for anglers right now.”

The three experimental lakes already require anglers to check in before and after fishing so wildlife biologists can get information and measure and record fish caught.

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