Lead Poisoning in Trumpeter Swans in British Columbia

As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the BC Ministry of Agriculture examines swan carcasses that are suspected to have lead toxicity. This collaboration has led to the compilation of data comprising over 20 years of lead toxicity cases in trumpeter swans in the Pacific Northwest. In early 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture continued with its participation in the partnership through necropsy and testing of 67 trumpeter swans that had either been collected dead, or after being treated in wildlife rehabilitation centres and then euthanized as their clinical signs worsened. 54 of the 67 swans examined tested had toxic levels of lead detected in the liver. The other most common causes of death included aspergillosis (5 birds) and traumatic injury (4 birds). Data from this project aids in decisions of wildlife policy makers whether interventions need to be put in place to prevent future toxicities.

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