Thames Anglers' Conservancy Members Forum
TAC Members-Only Forum
If you have arrived here and not yet signed up as a member, then please first join at using your real name.

Forum Membership is with Real Names only.
Please create a Username that is your First Name and Surname eg. "Joe Bloggs"
(This will save our Admin team the need to contact you about changing it)

Thames Anglers' Conservancy Members Forum
HomeHome  TAC Home PageTAC Home Page  SearchSearch  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Display results as :
Rechercher Advanced Search
Latest topics
» The Big one - Farnborough 23rd-24th March 2019
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:30 am by Keith Collett

» Thames So Full Of Cocaine It’s Pranging Out London’s Eels
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:27 am by Trevor Rowe

» "Citizen Crane" project - sampling dates
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:51 am by Ed Randall

» New Members: Real Names please
Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:36 am by Ed Randall

» Semi-Tidal draw-off 2018
Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:44 pm by Ed Randall

» Thames Water Blitz - 19th/20th October 2018
Tue Oct 02, 2018 7:21 pm by Ed Randall

» Citizen Crane Forum ~ 26th October 2018
Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:41 pm by Ed Randall

» Invitation to the 2018 Eel forum ~ 15th October
Sat Aug 25, 2018 7:38 pm by Ed Randall

» Mystery of dead eels found in rivers
Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:43 pm by Ed Randall

» Eel Trap Clean Up/ training 5th May 2018 10am
Sat Aug 25, 2018 6:40 pm by Ed Randall

» A new address for 2017 ~
Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:48 pm by Admin

» Hampton Riviera removed
Thu Aug 16, 2018 10:41 pm by Ed Randall

» Roads closed everywhere ~ July 29th/30th ~ bike race
Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:14 am by John LeSurf

» *Thames Tunnel (Tideway Tunnel)*
Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:56 am by John LeSurf

» new hotel at hampton court means loss of fishing
Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:26 pm by Ed Randall

» FORCE clean-up in Donkey Wood ~ Sun 13th May 2018
Thu May 17, 2018 10:16 am by JeffHowe

Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:23 pm by John LeSurf

» penton hook tidy up.
Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:05 am by John LeSurf

» Riverfly & Clean-up Donkey Woods Saturday 18th Nov 2017
Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:02 pm by Ed Randall

» Biggest fish of all book
Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:43 pm by Adrian Hoare

» Wandle Trust - eel pass installation - call for volunteers
Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:53 am by Ed Randall

» Outfall Safari across London - call for Volunteers!
Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:47 am by Ed Randall

» Fishing the Thames at Medley
Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:33 pm by Trevor Rowe

» Thames Semi-Tidal Draw Off 2017
Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:08 pm by Ed Randall

» Eel Trap Results 2017
Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:07 pm by patrick barker

» Fish-swallowing Angler "lucky to be alive"
Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:01 am by Ed Randall

» River Mole polluted at Horley
Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:52 am by Ed Randall

» Petition to stop the export of elvers
Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:16 pm by Ed Randall

» Riverfly Training ~ Hogsmill ~ 30th Sept 2017
Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:56 am by Ed Randall

» Monster fatberg in Whitechapel
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:40 pm by Ed Randall

Angling Data View
River Levels
UK Map

Thames Tides

Share | 

 Britain's waterbirds still being killed by lead poisoning, study finds

Go down 
David Harvey

David Harvey

Male Posts : 5381
Join date : 2010-01-21
Age : 103
Location : Surrey,

PostSubject: Britain's waterbirds still being killed by lead poisoning, study finds   Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:41 pm

Poisoning affected one-third of waterbirds sampled and killed one in ten of those found dead

Post-mortem results of thousands of UK waterbirds reveal that poisoning from spent lead shot is still a major cause of death more than ten years after legislation was introduced to reduce the threat.

The analysis is published today alongside the results of blood samples taken from live waterbirds caught in Britain within the last two years, which show that more than one in three of the birds sampled were affected by lead poisoning.

Lead is toxic and most uses of lead have systematically been phased out over the last three decades. However lead remains the most common material for shot in the UK.

Waterbirds eat spent lead shot when feeding and taking in grit to help grind food in their gizzards. As the lead is absorbed into their bodies, it affects virtually every system. For example, it paralyses stomach muscles, causing food to become packed into the intestine, and birds can die of starvation.

Going unleaded

Some restrictions on shooting with lead shot have gradually been introduced across the UK but they do not cover most shooting over agricultural land, where many swan and goose species graze. Studies have also shown that in England there is little compliance with the current laws with many shooters freely admitting they use lead illegally.

Martin Spray is Chief Executive of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), which funded and carried out the research. Speaking from the former home of Sir Peter Scott, shooter turned conservationist and founder of WWT, he said:

“WWT has studied the effects of lead shot on ducks, geese and swans for decades, stretching back to Sir Peter Scott’s days. It is as clear today as it was then that in the UK lead poisoning from shooting kills a large number of our wild birds each year and makes many more very sick.

“Despite the law, brought in over a decade ago to protect wetland birds, nothing has changed. Clearly an effective solution is long overdue.”

Fourteen species of ducks, geese and swans were found to have died from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning accounts for at least one in ten dead waterbirds recovered across Britain between 1971 and 2010. Dead birds were found with up to 438 pieces of lead shot in their gizzards.

The researchers specifically looked for the impact of legislation designed to protect the birds. Most sizes of lead angling weight have been banned from sale since 1988. It has been illegal to shoot certain species with lead and shoot with lead over certain wetlands in England since 1999, with similar legislation being adopted in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Across all species they could find no significant change in the proportion of birds dying from lead poisoning.

Mute swan success

However, one species, the mute swan was shown to benefit significantly from the ban on lead angling weights. The study showed that the proportion dying from lead poisoning dropped from a quarter to fewer than one in twenty.

Martin Spray explains:

“Those of us over a certain age clearly remember lead angling weights being phased out around the same time as leaded petrol. It is wonderful that the link with the recovery of mute swan numbers has been supported by our research. Unfortunately it hasn’t directly benefitted other species but if we can learn anything from the way the law was designed and implemented, perhaps they will benefit indirectly.”

Mute swans are particularly prone to swallowing lost fishing weights as they feed along the banks of rivers and lakes. Most sizes of lead weight were completely banned from sale in 1986.

Many waterbirds, such as whooper swans, graze on agricultural land where it is still legal to shoot most species with lead shot. A single shotgun cartridge contains up to 300 pieces of lead shot, almost all of which fall to the ground after being fired.

Chris Perrins, LVO, FRS, Emeritus Fellow of the Edward Grey Institute at Oxford University, has been the Queen’s Warden of the Swans since 1993. His research into lead poisoning of mute swans built the case for the restrictions on the sale of lead angling weights. He said:

“I find it extraordinary that we are still using lead [for shooting]. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution dealt with lead in 1983. One of its recommendations was [to phase out] all lead shooting shot and all lead fishing weights. Yet here we are nearly 30 years on and we are still using them.”

Phasing out the use of lead shot is recognised as the solution to protecting waterbirds from lead poisoning by the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, an international treaty that the UK is signed up to. Lead shot is completely banned for shooting in Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.

Martin Spray continues:

“Considering that the law currently isn’t protecting waterbirds in Britain the way it is meant to, the most practical and effective solution would appear to be to extend the restrictions on the use of lead shot to cover all shooting.

“Non-toxic alternatives are available and have been used successfully for years in countries such as Denmark. Spokespeople for the shooting community have always said that, when the evidence is forth coming, they will support practical proposals to address the threat to wildlife. We very much look forward to working with them.”

For more information please visit

Further information

The paper Poisoning from lead gunshot: still a threat to wild waterbirds in Britain is published in European Journal of Wildlife Research citation DOI 10.1007/s10344-012-0666-7

The use of lead shot was banned over the foreshore and specified (wetland) SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and for hunting wildfowl, coot (Fulica atra), and moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in all areas in England in 1999 and Wales in 2002, and for hunting over wetlands (for any type of shooting activity) in Scotland in 2004 and Northern Ireland in 2009.

In England there is evidence of non-compliance with the restrictions with 70% (n = 492) of ducks purchased from game outlets between 2008 and 2010 having been shot illegally with lead (Cromie et al. 2010).

All live birds tested for blood lead levels were caught at or near to four WWT centres in Britain: Slimbridge (Gloucestershire), Welney (Norfolk), Martin Mere (Lancashire) and Caerlaverock (Dumfriesshire).
The species caught represented the range of feeding techniques among waterbirds: dabbling (pintail, Anas acuta), diving (pochard, aythya farina) and grazing (whooper and Bewick’s swans), all of which have previously been shown to be affected by lead poisoning.

Blood lead concentrations usually reflect exposure to lead within 35-40 days of testing and birds were deemed to have been exposed to lead in the UK.

Birds with blood lead exceeding 20 µg/dL were considered to have elevated concentration above background levels, indicative of lead ingestion and consistent with adverse physiological effects. The first measurable biochemical change following lead absorption appears to be inhibition of the activity of one of the enzymes (ALAD) necessary for making haem, the red pigment that carries oxygen in the blood. Inhibition of ALAD activity occurs at blood lead concentrations well below 20 µg/d, but when inhibition is sufficiently large and/or for a long period birds can become anaemic and lethargic.

For the post-mortem analysis, pathological findings that are characteristic of lead poisoning include pale anaemic tissues (as lead affects the production of haemoglobin, the red pigment that carries oxygen in the blood) impaction of the gizzard and oesophagus with food, very little body fat, low body weight, (caused by starvation as a result of paralysis of the stomach muscles) atrophy (wasting) of the gizzard and liver, enlarged gall bladder and green staining of the vent

Lead shot was found in the gizzards of three-quarters of the birds determined to have died from lead poisoning.

Sometimes birds die of acute lead poisoning, after absorbing large amounts of lead, without the characteristic signs of poisoning. Therefore the proportion of birds dying of lead poisoning may be underestimated.

The 14 species found to have died from lead poisoning were: mute swan, whooper swan, Bewick’s swan, Canada goose, western greylag goose, pink-footed goose, mallard, northern pintail, gadwall, common teal, European pochard, tufted duck, common shelduck and shoveler.

Those species with the highest proportion of deaths recorded from lead poisoning include whooper swans (27.3%), Bewick’s swans (23%), Canada geese (16.7%) and pochard (16.7%).
Back to top Go down
Britain's waterbirds still being killed by lead poisoning, study finds
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» JR to JR buddy lead
» Rhino almost killed by herd of RZR's
» Britain's Busiest Beach
» Pour some lead!!
» Durham Lead

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Thames Anglers' Conservancy Members Forum :: Open Section :: News Board :: News-
Jump to: