Posts Tagged ‘Lead’

The Trumpeter Swan Society Stands Firm on Lead – Call for New Members to Stengthen the Stand

September 12, 2012

Trumpeter in Flight by Gail Miller


As TTSS kicks off its Fall Membership Drive, the Board of Directors stands firm on the Society’s fight against toxic lead.  On 7 June, TTSS along with six other conservation groups filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition, which frequently poisons and kills eagles, swans, loons, endangered California Condors, and other wildlife, as well as affecting human health. Ignoring well-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning from spent ammunition, the EPA refuses to acknowledge or evaluate risks to wildlife and humans. The EPA in April denied a petition requesting a public process to consider regulations for nontoxic hunting ammunition. TTSS was one of 100 groups that signed that petition.  The lawsuit challenges that decision.

“The EPA has the ability to immediately end the unintended killing of eagles, swans, loons, condors, and other wildlife,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, the agency refuses to address this needless poisoning. We’ve removed toxic lead from gasoline, paint, and most products exposing humans to lead poisoning; now it’s time to do the same for hunting ammunition to protect America’s wildlife.”

For several years, the Directors of TTSS have urged decision makers to “get the lead out.”  In Washington State and adjacent British Columbia, since 1999, over 3,000 swans have been confirmed to have died from ingesting lead shot.  Expended lead shot persists in the environment for a long time.  These swans died from ingesting lead shot deposited by hunters years ago.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has branded this a frivolous law suit and an attack on hunting.  As a hunter, TTSS’s Executive Director, John Cornely, takes very strong exception to that, and stresses that getting the lead out is in line with traditional conservation and hunting values.  Indeed, TTSS was founded by waterfowl biologists and hunters and has avid hunters and anglers on its board, staff, and as members today.

There are alternatives to lead rifle bullets and shotgun pellets. More than a dozen manufacturers market varieties and calibers of nonlead bullets and shot made of steel, copper, and alloys of other metals, with satisfactory to superior ballistics. Hunters in areas with restrictions on lead ammunition have very successfully transitioned to hunting with nontoxic bullets.  As the next generation of cygnets fledges, the message from TTSS’s John Cornely is clear, “let’s make the environment safer for them and all of us.”

Associate Director Becky Abel stresses that membership is key to strengthening our voice for Trumpeter Swans and the habitats upon which they depend. To do this, TTSS needs more members, more funds, and more people who understand and support the issues that we tackle. One of our generous board members has offered a membership challenge and will match dollar for dollar all new and increasing donations to TTSS. This is the ideal time to join. Do you know of a classroom that is reading E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan? Why not give the teacher a membership? Are you looking for a meaningful gift idea for a conservationist on your list? Your donations will be matched – JOIN US online today!



July 15, 2011

TTSS Helps Washington Swans!


Since 2005, when we first began the Adopt A Swan program, donors have contributed $10,324 to benefit Trumpeter Swans in Washington State, where lead poisoning has sickened and killed over 2,500 swans.  A list of these generous people, including a several wonderful grade school classes, can be found on our website.

Every dollar raised through this program goes to benefit the swans through our Lead Poisoning Crisis Response Program.  Since 2005, $8,562 of the donations have been used for: hazing swans away from areas where there is high danger of lead poisoning ($3,000); supplies and mileage expenses for monitoring of swans and pick up of injured and dead swans ($2,943); trailer rental for hazing and monitoring crew ($1,004); satellite transmitter data from radio marked swans ($1,000); and swan rehabilitation and necropsies ($615).  We currently have $1,762 carry over in the fund to help us fund next winter’s work.  Lead poisoning has a terrible impact on many wildlife species —Trumpeter Swans are particularly vulnerable.  We thank all those who have supported this program.  By becoming a supporter and help us reduce these needless deaths and suffering.

If you live in one of twenty states you could be FIRST in your state to Adopt a Swan!  This exciting program funds TTSS’s fight against LEAD. Right now the program is focused in well-organized efforts in Washington State, but with your help we may be able to expand our efforts. The list of donors on our site, from 32 states and 1 province, is impressive.  You can be on that list.  If you live in AZ, AR, DE, HI, ID, IN, KY, LA, ME, NE, NV, NM, ND, OH, OK, SC, SD, UT, VT, or WY – why not add YOUR name as well as YOUR STATE!  There are donation levels for every budget.  Please see our website, or email  for details.

Trumpeter Swan Update: EPA Denies Petition to Protect Wildlife From Toxic Lead-based Ammunition

August 28, 2010
Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan

Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan by Peg Abbott

TTSS and other conservation groups express strong disappointed in EPA quick rejection of the petiton to ban lead ammunition. Here is a copy of the press release, issued by the American Bird Conservancy and the Center for Biodiverity:

WASHINGTON — Conservation groups expressed dismay today after a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to deny a petition to ban toxic lead bullets and shot that commonly kill and harm bald eagles, trumpeter swans, endangered California condors and other wildlife. An estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States.

    “The EPA had ample evidence that lead bullets and shot have a devastating effect on America’s wildlife, yet has refused to do anything about it. It’s disappointing to see this country’s top environmental agency simply walk away from the preventable poisoning of birds and other wildlife,” said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy at American Bird Conservancy.

       On Aug. 3, American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the hunters’ group Project Gutpile petitioned the EPA to ban lead in bullets and shot for hunting, as well as fishing tackle. The petition referenced nearly 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers illustrating the widespread dangers of lead ammunition and fishing tackle. While the EPA is still considering the petition’s request for the regulation of lead fishing tackle, it denied the petition’s request regarding lead ammunition on the grounds that the Toxic Substances Control Act contains a specific exemption for lead ammunition.
      “We strongly believe that the EPA has the clear authority and duty to regulate this very harmful and toxic substance as used in bullets and shot, despite the so-called exemption for lead ammunition that is written into TSCA. We had hoped they would take that responsibility seriously but we remain committed to making sure toxic lead is removed from the environment and we’ll redouble our efforts to see that through,” said Adam Keats, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity.
      Lead is an extremely toxic substance that is dangerous to people and wildlife even at low levels. Exposure can cause a range of health effects, from acute poisoning and death to long-term problems such as reduced reproduction, inhibition of growth and damage to neurological development.
      Animals are poisoned when they scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die a painful death from lead poisoning while others suffer for years from its debilitating effects.

The denial was a one page document, citing lack of authority of the EPA to do so.  TTSS Executive Director, John Cornely, notes that one aspect positive for Trumpeter Swans is still pending.  The EPA has agreed to consider the part of the petition calling for a ban on lead fishing tackle because they do have authority to do that.

The Trumpeter Swan Society Supports Legal Petition to Ban Lead

August 13, 2010
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.


January 22, 2010

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 nontoxic substances.
— TTSS Board of Directors, April 20, 2008

Trumpeter Swan Preening by Beverly Kingdon, Ontario

TTSS has posted some detailed and sobering news about lead poisoning in Trumpeter Swans on our website. We note some progress has been made in the last decade, but emphasize that we face numerous challenges ahead if we are to alleviate the threat of this toxin. The first part of the article details strategies being used to cope with lead problems in Washington State. The second part gives excellent background material on causes of lead poisoning, symptoms of lead poisoning, and the real facts on lead shot vs. nontoxic ammunition.  We provide a clear-cut list on what you can do to help, outlines existing regulations, and recommend links to other websites for further detail. Since 1999, lead shot has killed over 2,300 wintering swans in Washington and British Columbia. TTSS has been working hard with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other nonprofit organizations, and concerned citizens to find the source of the lead shot, so that it can be cleaned up.