Six weak whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) and two weak tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus) were found at Swamp Miyajima (Hokkaido, Japan) in May 1998. Anorexia, depression, green watery feces, pale conjunctiva, and anemia were observed. Radiographs showed from six to 38 suspected lead pellets in the gizzard. Blood lead concentrations were 2.5–6.7 μg/g (mean±SD=4.6±1.14 μg/g) on day 1. After blood collection, the birds were treated with calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate (CaEDTA) given intravenously and force fed. Despite treatment, seven birds died the next day. Green, bile-stained livers and pale or green kidneys were observed on necropsy. Microscopically, bile pigment was widespread in the liver and acid-fast intranuclear inclusion bodies were observed in renal tubular epithelium. Lead concentrations in livers and kidneys were 14.0–30.4 μg/g and 30.2–122 μg/g wet weight, respectively. Only one bird survived and this whooper swan continued to be treated with CaEDTA and activated charcoal. No lead shot was observed in the proventriculus and gizzard by radiography on day 64 and the blood lead concentration decreased from 2.9 μg/g to 0.09 μg/g during that same period. After 4 mo of rehabilitation, the whooper swan was returned to the wild. Lead intoxication continues to be a problem at Swamp Miyajima.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1