Hunters and anglers from multiple conservation groups gathered in the Northwoods last fall for a nonlead cast and blast
National Wildlife Federation Outdoors and Artemis Sportswomen released the short film “Northwoods Unleaded” today online to promote the voluntary use of nonlead hunting and fishing equipment to reduce accidental poisonings of nongame wildlife like bald eagles and common loons.
The film follows a group of hunters and anglers from multiple conservation organizations for a “cast and blast” weekend of fishing for northern pike and trout and hunting for ruffed grouse from a cabin on a one of Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula lakes that is home to common loons and bald eagles. It explores the reasons why the individuals in the film have chosen to use nonlead ammunition for hunting and nonlead tackle for fishing, as well as why the National Wildlife Federation urges hunters and anglers to voluntarily switch to nonlead alternatives.
“The effects of lead poisoning on wildlife are well-documented, but it’s not enough just to say hunters and anglers should do this or should do that. It’s important to show that a lot of us hunters and anglers are already using nonlead for a variety of reasons and how much fun we have hunting and fishing with it,” said Drew YoungeDyke, manager of sporting communications for the National Wildlife Federation, who appears in the film. “It was great to have such dedicated conservationists and avid hunters and anglers join us from multiple different organizations.”
The film also features Marcia Brownlee, manager of the National Wildlife Federation’s Artemis Sportswoman program; Aaron Kindle, director of sporting advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation; George Lindquist, board president of Michigan United Conservation Clubs; Craig Challenor, board president of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation; Ryan Cavanaugh, co-chair of the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; Sarah Topp, board member of the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers; and William Koepke and Marissa English, both members of the Wisconsin Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. It was filmed by Jordan Browne, who also produces for Michigan Out-of-Doors TV.
“As a hunter and an angler, I am committed to the conservation of the entire habitat,” said Brownlee. “I choose to use non-lead ammunition and tackle to protect non-game species and the ecosystem we all rely on.”
Lead poisoning is one of the leading causes of mortality for both common loons and bald eagles in Michigan, along with trauma. Common loons ingest lead from sinkers, split-shot, and jig-heads lost from anglers. Bald eagles ingest lead when they scavenge game shot by hunters, whether gut piles from deer or wounded upland game, as well as eating fish which have broken off line attached to lead tackle. The National Wildlife Federation urges hunters and anglers to voluntarily use nonlead alternatives to reduce these incidents.
“I choose to use nonlead ammunition and tackle because I would rather keep any chance of lead out of my freezer and off my plate, and if I prevent even one other non-target animal from being harmed by doing so I see that as a net gain,” Kindle said. "As ethical hunters, it’s our duty to know our target and make a clean shot. I see this no differently. I only want to affect my target and when I leave I want my impact to leave with me not languish on the landscape with a chance of harming other wildlife.”
Northwoods Unleaded was originally slated for release this spring through a series of pint night screenings, but to abide by social distancing guidelines and avoid large public gatherings, the National Wildlife Federation released it today on its NWF Outdoors Vimeo channel free of charge.
“Most of us are spending more time at home right now, even if we’re still able to engage in some responsible outdoor recreation while practicing social distancing, so it seemed like good timing to relase the film online now,” said YoungeDyke. “We hope the film will inspire hunters and anglers to consider hunting with nonlead ammunition and fishing with nonlead weight, but we also think people will appreciate the camaraderie, look forward to when they’ll be able to gather around the campfire with friends, join each other on the fishing boat, hunt together on our public lands, and share wild game and fish with each other. In the midst of all this social distancing, we’re reminded how much we enjoy how hunting and fishing can bring us together.”
The production of Northwoods Unleaded was supported by funding from Ervin Industries, Hunt To Eat, and Toyota. Music was provided by National Park Radio.
Watch the film at and learn more about hunting and fishing with nonlead alternatives at www.nwf.org/leadfreelandscapes.
The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while investing in a backlog of public land maintenance, providing current and future generations the outdoor recreation opportunities like boat launches to access fishable waters, shooting ranges, and public lands to hunt as well as the economic stimulus we need right now.