Lead Surveys and Low Water Levels in Entrance Road Impoundment at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge
A lethargic tundra swan sitting on the side of a refuge road in February 2023, possibly due to lead poisoning.

Migrant swans and ducks are arriving at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, but viewing opportunities may be limited. Surveys for lead are being conducted in the Entrance Road impoundment, which requires us to maintain low water levels through December. Unfortunately, this impacts bird use and viewing opportunities in a very popular location. 

Last winter, we experienced a large swan mortality event in this impoundment. All swans submitted to the lab were positive for lead poisoning. Lead surveys will help inform future management decisions to reduce additional impacts to swans. If survey results are favorable, water levels will be allowed to increase through the winter.  As the water levels rise, we will be monitoring the area for possible reoccurrence and will take steps to dewater the unit if we see higher than normal mortality occurring.

In the meantime, we encourage you to enjoy birding locations elsewhere on the refuge and other area national wildlife refuges.