The Washington Times - November 19, 2009, 07:43AM

Years ago, a warning went out that lead fishing tackle – sinkers, especially – were killing loons that ingested some of the lead that was lost by anglers.

But was it simply an unsupported wacky attempt by the “politically correct?”

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Most of the 60-odd million American sport fishermen might think that a “ban the lead” move that crept into various government agencies decades ago was dead and gone. But according to a national fishing news service, that isn’t necessarily so. TheFishingWire.com says recreational anglers in the state of Washington are more than a little upset with what is happening as concerns loons vs. lead.

Although there is no solid evidence that lead fishing tackle threatens waterfowl, such as loons, there is a new proposed ban on lead and the state’s fishermen are baffled by it all. The sport anglers are being asked to fire off letters of protest to the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission telling the agency that it should reject any proposals that would prohibit the use of lead tackle.

Actually, the assumption that the oft maligned metal threatens loon populations is unwarranted and if the lead ban becomes law, the resulting increased cost for metal tackle that would be acceptable could also force fishermen to reach deep into their pockets. All that without any proof that lead has caused real harm to loons.

Worse yet, if a ban catches on, there’ll be attempts to copy it in every state in the Union even where there are no loons.

A study of common loons by the Washington fish and wildlife office actually “found no evidence of a declining population or a substantial change in distribution” in the state. The state’s wildlife officials also agreed that loon populations “are stable or increasing throughout their range.”

So how did all this start? Some advocates for a lead ban claim that over a 13-year period, nine loons died from ingesting lead sinkers.

How could anyone in their right mind call this a scientific indictment of lead fishing equipment?