Lead Pellet Ingestion and Liver-Lead Concentrations in Upland Game Birds from Southern Ontario, Canada
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One-hundred twenty-three gizzards from upland game birds (chukar, Alectoris chukar; and common pheasant, Phasianus colchicus) harvested by hunters in southern Ontario, Canada, were examined for lead pellet ingestion by manual examination of gizzard contents and by radiography. Lead pellets were found to be ingested by chukars (6/76; 8%) and the common pheasant (16/47; 34%). Further, 13% (17/129) of the bird (wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo; Hungarian partridge, Perdix perdix; chukar; and common pheasant) livers analyzed had elevated lead concentrations (≥6 μg/g wet weight [ww]). Liver-lead concentrations above Health Canada’s guideline for human consumption of fish protein (<0.5 μg/g ww) were found in 40% (51/129) of livers analyzed. Data indicate that the ingestion of lead pellets in upland game birds and the potential consumption of lead-contaminated meat by humans are concerns related to the continued use of lead shotshell for hunting.