Glacier bans leaded fishing gear
A concern about impacts of lead on wildlife has prompted Glacier National Park to ban all leaded fishing gear in the park.
The change comes with a series of new regulations that will take effect this year, including expanded creel limits on the west side of the park.
The ban on leaded fishing lures, weights, jigs and fishing line is in response to studies that have documented health impacts on waterfowl that have ingested lead.
"Like certain other heavy metals, lead has no known biological function and is therefore toxic when ingested," said Jerry O'Neal, Glacier's assistant superintendent.
"Lead can affect the central nervous system, inhibit normal liver functions and can cause brain lesions and blindness."
As a toxicologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, O'Neal played a role in establishing alternative nontoxic fishing lures and weights for use on National Wildlife Refuges in the 1990s.
The ban will not apply to leaded weights, 2-10 pounds, that are used on downrigger cables for deep-water lake trout fishing on the park's largest lakes. The large weights pose no threat to birds, O'Neal said.
The park also is officially expanding its fishing season to a year-round status on most lakes, to coincide with the state of Montana's fishing season. The season had previously been open for a limited season on certain waters.
Upper Kintla Lake, Cracker Lake and Slide Lake will remain closed to all fishing.
Also starting Jan. 1, the park is doing away with catch limits for lake trout on Bowman Lake, for lake trout and whitefish on Lake McDonald. The rule change is intended to help native fish, including the threatened bull trout, by reducing populations of lake trout and whitefish, which are not native species.
No license or permit is required to fish in Glacier Park, but anglers are advised to get copies of Glacier's fishing regulations before fishing on park waters.
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