WALLINGFORD — After the death of a bald eagle found behind the senior center, the Town Council is slated to discuss whether to ban the local use of lead in fishing tackle.
Councilor Tom Laffin suggested the item for the Town Council ordinance committee meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today.
Laffin said Monday that he learned about the plight of the female bald eagle, which died on May 19 apparently of lead poisoning, from a post on Facebook the next day by Alexa Tomassi.
Tomassi said in the May 20 post that her brother found the bird in distress on the trail behind the senior center that goes around Community Lake and called the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The senior center is located at 238 Washington St.
The state conservation police brought the bird to Christine’s Critters, a wildlife rescue and education center in Weston that rehabilitates birds of prey, but it succumbed to suspected lead poisoning during the night, according to a post by the organization.
“As rehabilitators, we do everything we can to save their life and ease their suffering,” the post said. “Unfortunately the damage was too severe to save her life despite all the available therapies being used.”
Laffin said Wallingford has a pair of bald eagles nesting at North Farms Reservoir, but it’s unclear whether the bird was of the pair.
“She may have traveled from elsewhere,” he said. “Why not be extra cautious?”
Laffin said he chose to focus on lead in fishing tackle and not hunting ammunition “because I’m concerned about the problems that arise in fishing with catch-and-releasing with lead equipment and the impact it has on
Eagles, osprey and other raptors eat small mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as fish.
“I think there’s an opportunity to bring awareness to this,” he said, adding that while bald eagles are no longer endangered, they’re not common.
Laffin said it’s unclear if state law would override a local ban and that it’s unknown exactly which bodies of water in town would be subject to the new regulation.
Mackenzie Reservoir would be, he said, adding he would have to find out about the state-owned North Farms Reservoir.
Ulbrich, Pistapaug and Lanes Pond reservoirs are closed to public use, including fishing.
Laffin said he would bring in the town Conservation Commission for advice on Community Lake.
The Quinnipaic River may not be within the town’s jurisdiction, but it might be possible to put up warning signs, Laffin said.
“If it’s enforceable, I don’t know,” he said, “but it’s pretty horrible to have majestic animal like that die.”
The issue of lead in fishing and hunting equipment is a controversial topic.
In March 2017, then-U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke overturned a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands and waters, put in place less than two months earlier under the Obama administration.
The ordinance committee meeting can be accessed through https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/433354477 or by calling 1-866-899-4679 and using access code 433-354-477.