Lead Contamination in American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) from Wisconsin

  • S.M. StromEmail author
  • K.A. Patnode
  • J.A. Langenberg
  • B.L. Bodenstein
  • A.M. Scheuhammer


An initial survey of lead levels in American woodcock (Scolopax minor) from Wisconsin was conducted in 1998 using wing bones from hunter-donated woodcock. The results of this initial survey indicated that young-of-year woodcock were accumulating extremely high levels of lead in their bones. Similar collections were made (using steel shot) between 1999 and 2001. The combined results of this collection indicated that 43.4% of young-of-year woodcock (range 1.5–220.0 μg/g dry wt) and 70% of woodcock chicks (range 9.6–93.0 μg/g dry wt) had bone lead levels in the elevated range (>20 μg/g dry wt). Blood samples were collected from chicks at a site considered elevated based on bone lead results (Mead Wildlife Area) and a site considered background (Navarino Wildlife Area). These samples were analyzed for lead concentration and aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity. The mean blood lead concentrations of woodcock chicks from both sites did not reach levels that are considered elevated in waterfowl (>0.200 μg/ml). However, blood lead concentrations of chicks from the Mead Wildlife Area were significantly higher than lead levels in chicks from Navarino Wildlife Area (p = 0.002). Although the ultimate sources of lead exposure for Wisconsin woodcock currently remain unidentified, anthropogenic sources cannot be ruled out. Our results indicate that elevated lead exposure in Wisconsin woodcock is common and begins shortly after hatch.


Lead Concentration Lead Level Lead Exposure Blood Lead Level Blood Lead Concentration 
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Funding for this study was provided by the Webless Migratory Game Bird Research Program (U.S. Fish and Wildlife), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Program, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Brian Beard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Geology and Geophysics, conducted stable isotope analysis. Thanks to Matt Verdon for his assistance with the manuscript graphics. Dave Zoromski, Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory conducted all lead analyses. Special thanks go out to all the people who helped with this labor-intensive project and volunteered their (and their dogs’) time: John Huff, Brian Dhuey, Rich Wissink, Tom Meier, Ken Blomberg, Missy Sparrow, and Larry Gregg.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.M. Strom
    • 1
    Email author
  • K.A. Patnode
    • 1
  • J.A. Langenberg
    • 1
  • B.L. Bodenstein
    • 1
  • A.M. Scheuhammer
    • 2
  1. 1.Wisconsin Department of Natural ResourcesMadisonWisconsin
  2. 2.Canadian Wildlife ServiceNational Wildlife Research CentreOttawaCanada

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