Poster Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Assessment of metal ingestion in female northern pintails (Anas acuta) wintering along the Texas coast  (#142)

Nathaniel R. Huck 1 , Bart M. Ballard 1 , Alan M. Fedynich 1 , Kevin J. Kraai 2 , Mauro E. Castro 3
  1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, Texas, USA
  2. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Canyon, Texas, USA
  3. Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, Texas, USA

Lead poisoning through shot ingestion was historically one of the largest health issues affecting waterfowl in North America. Lead shot was banned for use in waterfowl hunting in the United States in 1991, and in Canada in 1997. However, biologists need to understand how and if lead shot remaining in the environment will continue to impact waterfowl. Our goal was to estimate lead and non-toxic shot consumption by female northern pintails (Anas acuta) wintering along the Texas Coast. We found shot in the gizzards of 39 (17%) of 227 female northern pintails collected along the Texas Coast. Of these, lead shot was found in 7 gizzards, steel shot was found in 24 gizzards, and other non-toxic shot was found in 20 gizzards. Some females consumed multiple shot types. Overall shot (lead and non-toxic combined) ingestion rates were similar to those found prior to the lead ban in Texas (14%) and Louisiana (17%); however, lead ingestion rates were considerably lower, suggesting that lead is becoming less available over time. All northern pintails that had lead shot in their gizzards were collected from coastal habitats. Whereas, it seems that lead consumption by northern pintails has decreased, monitoring lead consumption rates from different regions will provide insight into lead’s resilience and prevalence in different habitats and under various environmental conditions.