Ardea
Official journal of the Netherlands Ornithologists' Union

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Bowen J.E. & Petrie S.A. (2007) Incidence of artifact ingestion in Mute Swans and Tundra Swans on the lower Great Lakes, Canada. ARDEA 95 (1): 135-142
Although lead poisoning is common in swans, no information exists on the prevalence of lead artifact ingestion in swans using the lower Great lakes (LGL). We examined artifact ingestion (lead and non-toxic) in Mute Swans Cygnus olor and Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus collected on the LGL in Ontario (19992003) following the 1999 ban on use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in Canada. A larger proportion of Mute Swans (19.8% of 243 birds) contained artifacts than did Tundra Swans (6.5% of 77 birds), possibly due to the fact that Mute Swans feed exclusively in aquatic habitats. Overall, 14% of Mute Swans contained non-toxic shot, 6% contained lead shot and 1.6% contained fishing tackle; 4% of Tundra Swans contained non-toxic shot and 2.6% contained lead shot. Adult Mute Swans (22.7%) had a higher incidence of artifact ingestion than did cygnets (8.9%), but there were no age-related differences in Tundra Swans. No sex-related differences in artifact ingestion were detected found in either species. Given the overall frequency of shot ingestion in Mute Swans (20% of birds), lead toxicosis probably was a significant mortality factor for this species on the LGL before the lead shot ban. As only 1.6% of Mute Swans and no Tundra Swans contained any form of fishing tackle, angling related injuries and mortalities are likely lower in the LGL than has been reported for swans in Europe. Presently, lead toxicosis is likely having a low to moderate effect on Mute Swans and a minimal effect on Tundra Swans on the LGL.


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