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Trumpeter Swan Die-offs in northwest Washington Investigated

Date Posted: January 17, 2003

UPDATE: For the third year in a row, there has been a large die-off of trumpeter swans in northwest Washington. The birds are picking up large amounts of lead shot. During the previous two years more than 100 birds have died and in the 2001/2002 winter season we collected approximately 250 carcasses. The Service has partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Canadian Wildlife Service to conduct a radio telemetry project on some of the birds to help determine where they are picking up the large loads of lead shot. In the previous years, various areas were sampled and as a result, a local gun club cleaned up their highly contaminated lead shot site. We are hopeful that further investigation will lead us to other hot spot(s). Contact: Cindy Chaffee, 360-753-4324.

Background Info (September 2000) In late January and early February 2000 about 100 trumpeter swans near Linden, Whatcom County, WA, died due to lead shot poisoning. Service contaminants staff worked closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and federal law enforcement to investigate the die-off. A potential source for the poisonings may be a local gun club located adjacent to an agricultural pasture, which had standing water this winter. Circumstantial evidence indicates that the swans were using the site. The State is taking the lead and taking a cooperative approach with local and Federal entities to clean up the site.

Contacts:
Cindy Chaffee, (360)753-4324.

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Last updated: February 13, 2013