The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required a chronic dosing study that assessed the health and reproductive effects of tungsten-iron and tungsten-polymer shot in adult game-farm mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) prior to granting permanent approval of the shot for waterfowl hunting. Herein, we present the effects of tungsten-iron and tungsten-polymer shot on various hematologic parameters and metal residue concentrations in the femur, liver, kidneys, and gonads. Thirty-two-bird groups (sexes equal) of adult mallards were dosed orally with eight #4 steel shot (control), eight #4 tungsten-iron shot, or eight #4 tungsten-polymer shot on days 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 of a 150 day trial (26 January 1998 to 25 June 1998). An additional 12 mallards (sexes equal) received eight #4 lead shot (positive control) on day 0 of the study. Lead-dosed mallards had significantly decreased hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration, and whole-blood delta aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity on day 7, as well as significant changes in a number of plasma chemistry parameters compared to ducks in the control, tungsten-iron, or tungsten-polymer groups. Mallards dosed with tungsten-iron or tungsten-polymer shot had occasional significant differences in hematocrit and plasma chemistry values when compared to control mallards over the 150 day period, but these changes were not considered to be indicative of deleterious effects. Low concentrations of tungsten were detected in gonad and kidney samples from males and females and in liver samples from females dosed with tungsten-polymer shot. Tungsten was also detected in femur samples from tungsten-polymer-dosed mallards. Higher concentrations of tungsten were detected in femur, liver, kidney, and gonad samples from tungsten-iron-dosed ducks. Tungsten-iron or tungsten-polymer shot repeatedly administered to adult mallards did not cause adverse hematological effects during the 150 day trial. Concentrations of tungsten in the femur, liver, kidneys, and gonads were generally higher in tungsten-iron-dosed ducks when compared to tungsten-polymer-dosed ducks.
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Vol. 37 • No. 3