OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-established a hotline for public reports of dead or ill swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, as part of a continuing effort to monitor trumpeter swans that have succumbed to lead poisoning.
For the second year, citizens can call (360) 466-4345, ext. 266, to report dead or sick swans. Callers should be prepared to leave a message including 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.
Some trumpeter swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, and in southwestern British Columbia, each winter succumb to lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot in areas where they feed.
Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in Washington and British Columbia for more than a decade, but biologists believe swans are likely reaching shallow underwater areas where spent lead shot is still present.
“People who see sick or dead swans are advised not to handle or attempt to move the birds,” said Jennifer Bohannon, WDFW wildlife biologist.
WDFW employees and volunteers from the Washington Waterfowl Association will pick up the birds, Bohannon said. Puget Sound Energy also is assisting the effort by collecting swans killed in power line collisions.
This year, collected swans also will be among the thousands of wild birds WDFW is testing for avian influenza.
For several years, WDFW and other agencies and organizations have been monitoring trumpeter swan mortality in the North Puget Sound area. Besides WDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the University of Washington, the Trumpeter Swan Society, the Washington Waterfowl Association and other non-governmental organizations are involved in the study to locate sources of the toxic lead and remove it from the environment.