We assessed the potential for embedded steel and tungsten-bismuth-tin (TBT) shot to adversely affect health of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Ducks were implanted with three number four steel (n = 19) or TBT (n = 20) shot pellets in their pectoral muscles. None of seven hematology parameters measured differed in response to treatment (P ≥ 0.17). At necropsy 1, 2, 4, and 8 wk posttreatment, we observed only localized tissue reactions to embedded steel or TBT shot. Reactions differed grossly: after wk 1, embedded steel shot were enveloped in 0.5 to 2 mm grayish capsules, whereas TBT shot were surrounded by thinner (<0.5 mm), translucent capsules. Corrosion of steel shot was apparent. Microscopic lesions associated with steel shot were characterized by moderate to severe histiocytic and lymphocytic inflammation and considerable particle deposition, whereas histiocytic inflammation was mild and particle deposition minimal in TBT lesions. Overall scores of inflammation at steel shot implant sites were greater (P ≤ 0.043) than at TBT sites during wk 1 and 8. Inflammation at steel implant sites was relatively consistent over the 8-wk period, but decreased (P = 0.0017) at TBT sites by wk 8. Weights of steel shot recovered from muscle tissue declined logarithmically (R2 = 0.978, P = 0.0014) over 8 wk, but TBT shot weights remained unchanged (P = 0.255). Embedded TBT shot, as compared to steel, resisted corrosion and induced comparatively mild inflammatory responses in mallard muscle tissue. However, inflammatory reactions to both embedded steel and TBT shot were localized and had no detectable systemic effects on mallard health under experimental conditions.
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Vol. 32 • No. 1