OLYMPIA – In a continuing effort to monitor trumpeter swans that have succumbed to lead poisoning, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has established a hotline to report dead or ill swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties.
The public can call (360) 466-4345, ext. 266, and leave a message with their name and phone number, and the location and condition of the swans. The hotline is available 24 hours a day through the end of February.
Volunteers from the Trumpeter Swan Society and the Washington Waterfowl Association will pick up the birds. The swans die of lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot that has been deposited in areas where the birds feed during the winter.
Of particular importance are sick or dead swans wearing red collars, attached to some birds to help track their movement. These swans should be reported immediately to Martha Jordan, of the Trumpeter Swan Society, at (206) 713-3684.
“It’s best not to handle the sick or dead swans,” said Jennifer Bohannon, WDFW wildlife biologist. “Call our hotline and we will have a volunteer come out and properly handle the bird.”
Although lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in Washington and British Columbia for more than a decade, it is still taking a toll on trumpeter swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, and in southwestern British Columbia.
WDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the University of Washington, the Trumpeter Swan Society and other non-governmental organizations are involved in a study to locate and remove the toxic lead.