The Trumpeter Swan Society Supports Legal Petition to Ban Lead

Downy Trumpeter Swan Cygnet by Arnold Frederickson

A Brighter Future?? Downy Trumpeter Swan Cygnet by Arnold Frederickson

The mission of The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) is to “Assure the Vitality and Welfare of Wild Trumpeter Swans.”   On August 7th, Executive Director John Cornely stated on behalf of the Society, “The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) joins a coalition of conservation organizations, hunting and veterinary groups in support of a formal petition filed August 3rd with the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a ban on the use of toxic lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle.”  The legal petition supported by TTSS, submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency, is 100 pages in length and 37 of the pages present an impressive list of scientific documentation on lead and its hazards to wildlife and risk to human health. Against this body of scientific knowledge, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, says, “There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations that would require restricting or banning the use of ammunition containing lead beyond current limitations.”   Apparently, profits are more important to the National Shooting Sports Foundation than the health of people and wildlife.

Swans are among several key species used as evidence in the petition, along with Bald and Golden Eagles, California Condors, other raptors, waterfowl, cranes and rails, corvids, doves and other songbirds.  More than 130 species of wildlife are included as having been affected by lead. Foes state that populations are increasing in several of these key species.  This does not negate, that, as stated it the petition’s summary comments, in some species thousands, or tens of thousands, die each year in North America.  Swan mortality from lead ingestion has been noted as early as 1925.  Extensive die-offs of swans in Washington and British Columbia are detailed in the petition and studies that show lead mortality is a problem in efforts to restore Wisconsin Trumpeters are cited as well.

On 20 April, 2008, during the TTSS 21st Conference, the TTSS Board unanimously passed the following Motion: 

 “TTSS recognizes that lead is a potent toxic substance and hazardous to wildlife and human health when scattered into our environment.  Trumpeter Swans are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. In Washington State alone, over 2,500 trumpeters have needlessly suffered and died in recent years after swallowing lead as they fed in fields and wetlands. 

TTSS urges the rapid end to the use of this toxic substance in all hunting, other shooting activities, and fishing and conversion to the use of alternative non-toxic substances.

We urge all who value wildlife to unite in this effort to end this needless poisoning.”

TTSS is a 501(c)(3) conservation organization founded in 1968 and dedicated to the conservation of wild Trumpeter Swans. We have members throughout the U.S. and Canada and our Board and membership include most of the swan experts in North America. Our Board and membership is diverse, including hunters and non-hunters alike.

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