Since 1986, lead-based gunshot has been banned inter alia for hunting in ponds with the release of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in Denmark. To assess whether ingestion of gunshot by this common waterbird has changed as a result of this regulation, we purchased 690 mallard gizzards from ten Danish hunting districts with a program for the rearing and release of mallards for shooting purposes. After X-ray examination, embedded and ingested shot were removed by dissection and subjected to type classification. Of the 690 gizzards, 66 (9.6%) had ingested shot in different combinations of steel, bismuth and lead. The prevalence and occurrence of shot in general were higher than in previous Danish and other studies. However, prevalence of lead shot was markedly lower, and the ingestion of non-lead shot exceeded the levels of ingested lead shot by a factor 10. The result demonstrated that lead shot has become less available over time, although it is still present despite the ban of lead-based ammunition in habitats of released mallards in 1986. Our study proves the hypothesis that mallards have switched from ingesting lead to steel shot due to the change of shot types for hunting in their habitat and indirectly demonstrates that the Danish phase-out of lead shot for hunting has led to decreased levels of waterbird poisoning. No gizzards were detected with embedded lead shot, which demonstrated a full compliance with the lead shot regulation in this sample.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anderson WL, Havera SP, Zercher BW (2000) Ingestion of lead and non-toxic gunshot pellets by ducks in the Mississippi flyway. J Wildl Manag 64:848–857. https://doi.org/10.2307/3802755
Arnemo JM, Anderson O, Stokke S, Thomas VG, Krone O, Pain DJ, Mateo R (2016) Health and environmental risks from lead-based ammunition: science versus socio-politics. EcoHealth 13:618–622. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-016-1177-x
Bellrose FC (1959) Lead poisoning as a mortality factor in waterfowl populations. Bulletin Illinois Natural History Survey 7 27(3):233–288
Brewer L, Fairbrother A, Clark J, Amick D (2003) Acute toxicity of lead, steel, and iron-tungsten-nickel shot to mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). J Wildl Dis 39(3):638–648. https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-39.3.638
Clausen B, Wolstrup C (1979) Lead poisoning in game from Denmark. Danish Review of Game Biology 11(2)
Cook RS, Trainer DO (1966) Experimental lead poisoning of Canada geese. J Wildl Manag 30(1):1–8
Delahay RJ, Spray CJ (eds) (2015) Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium. Lead ammunition: understanding and minimising the risks to human and environmental health. Edward Grey Institute, The University of Oxford, Oxford
Ecke F, Singh NJ, Arnemo JM, Bignert A, Helander B, Berglund AMM, Borg H, Bröjer C, Holm K, Lazzone M, Miller T, Nordström Ä, Räikkönen J, Rodushkin I, Ägren E, Hörnfeldt B (2017) Sublethal lead exposure alters movement behavior in free-ranging golden eagles. Environ Sci Technol 51:5729–5736. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b06024
Eskildsen J (1980) Tætheden af blyhagl i lavvandede vestjyske fjordområder. Naturhistorisk Museum 1980
Flint PL (1998) Settlement rate of lead shot in tundra wetlands. J Wildl Manag 62(3):1099–1102
Flint PL, Schamber JL (2010) Long-term persistence of spent lead shot in tundra wetlands. J Wildl Manag 74(1):148–151
Holladay JP, Nisanian M, Williams S, Tuckfield RC, Kerr R, Jarrett T, Tannenbaum T, Holladay SD, Sharma A, Gogal RM Jr (2012) Dosing of adult pigeons with as little as one #9 lead pellet caused severe δ-ALAD depression, suggesting potential adverse effects in wild populations. Ecotoxicology 21(8):2331–2337. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-012-0989-x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22903291/
Huck NR, Ballard BM, Fedynich AM, Kraai KJ, Castro ME (2016) Shot ingestion by wintering female northern pintails (Anas acuta) in the Texas Coastal Plain, 2012–14. J Wildl Dis 52(1):118–121. https://doi.org/10.7589/2015-02-050
Jorgensen SS, Willems M (1987) The fate of lead in soils: the transformation of lead pellets in shooting range soils. Ambio 16:11–15
Kanstrup N (2012) Lead in game birds in Denmark: levels and sources. Danish Academy of Hunting. Article: 2012–1
Kanstrup N, Balsby TJS (2019) Danish pheasant and mallard hunters comply with the lead shot regulation. Ambio. In: Kanstrup N, VG Thomas and AD Fox. Lead in ammunition: persistent problems and solutions. Ambio vol. 48, Special Issue
Kerr R, Holladay S, Jarrett T, Selcer B, Meldrum B, Williams S, Tannenbaum L, Holladay J, Williams J, Gogal R (2010) Lead pellet retention time and associated toxicity in northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus). Environ Toxicol Chem 29(12):2869–2874. https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.355
Levengood JM, Sanderson GC, Anderson WL, Foley GL, Skowron LM, Brown PW, Seets JW (1999) Acute toxicity of ingested zinc shot to game-farm mallards. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 36:1–36
Lumeij JT, Hendriks H, Timmers A (1989) The prevalence of lead shot ingestion in wild mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) in the Netherlands. Vet Q 11(1):51–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/01652176.1989.9694196
Mateo R (2009) Lead poisoning in wild birds in Europe and the regulations adopted by different countries. In: Watson RT, Fuller M, Pokras M, Hunt WG (eds) Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise
Mateo R, Vallverdú-Colla N, López-Antia A, Taggart MA, Martínez-Haroac M, Guitart R, Ortiz-Santaliestraa ME (2014) Reducing Pb poisoning in birds and Pb exposure in game meat consumers: the dual benefit of effective Pb shot regulation. Environ Int 63:163–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2013.11.006
McLaren R, Rooney C, Condron L (2009) Control of lead solubility in soil contaminated with lead shot: effect of soil moisture and temperature. Soil Res 47(3):296–304
Meltofte H, Petersen BD (1979) Forekomst af blyhagl i vestjyske vådområder samt i kråsen hos danske ænder. DOFT 73:265–272
Mitchell RR, Fitzgerald SD, Auerlich RJ, Balander RJ, Powell DC, Templeman RJ, Sickle RL, Stevens W, Bursian SJ (2001a) Health effects following chronic dosing with tungsten-iron and tungsten-polymer shot in adult-game farm mallards. J Wildl Dis 37:451–458. https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-37.3.451
Mitchell RR, Fitzgerald SD, Auerlich RJ, Balander RJ, Powell DC, Templeman RJ, Cray C, Stevens W, Bursian SJ (2001b) Hematological effects and metal residue concentrations following chronic dosing with tungsten-iron and tungsten polymer shot in adult game-farm mallards. J Wildl Dis 37:459–467. https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-37.3.459
Mitchell RR, Fitzgerald SD, Auerlich RJ, Balander RJ, Powell DC, Templeman RJ, Stevens W, Bursian SJ (2001c) Reproductive effects and ducking survivability following chronic dosing with tungsten-iron and tungsten-polymer shot in game-farm mallards. J Wildl Dis 37:468–474. https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-37.3.468
Newth JL, Rees EC, Cromie RL, McDonald RA, Bearhop S, Pain DJ, Norton GL, Deacon C, Hilton GM (2016) Widespread exposure to lead affects body condition of free-living whooper swans Cygnus cygnus wintering in Britain. Environ Pollut 209:60–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2015.11.007
Pain DJ (1996) Lead in waterfowl. In: Beyer WM, Heinz GH, Redman-Norwoo AW (eds) Environmental contaminants in wildlife: interpreting tissue concentrations. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, pp 251–262
Pain DJ, Fisher IJ, Thomas VG (2009) A global update of lead poisoning in terrestrial birds from ammunition sources. In: Watson RT, Fuller M, Pokras M, Hunt WG (eds) Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise. https://doi.org/10.4080/ilsa.2009.0108
Plouzeau E, Guillard O, Pineau A, Billiald P, Berny P (2011) Will leaded young mallards take wing? Effects of a single lead shot ingestion on growth of juvenile game-farm mallard ducks Anas platyrhynchos. Sci Total Environ 409(12):2379–2383. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.03.012
Rooney CP, McLaren RG, Condron LM (2007) Control of lead solubility in soil contaminated with lead shot: Effect of soil pH. Environ Pollut 149(2):149–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2007.01.009
Sanderson GC, Anderson WL, Foley GL, Duncan KL, Skowron LM, Brawn JD, Seets JW (1997) Toxicity of ingested bismuth alloy shot in game-farm mallards: chronic health effects and effects on reproduction. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 35(4):217–252
Sanderson P, Naidu R, Bolan N, Bowman M, McLure S (2012) Effect of soil type on distribution and bioaccessibility of metal contaminants in shooting range soils. Sci Total Environ 438:452–462
Scheuhammer AM, Norris SL (1996) The ecotoxicology of lead shot and lead fishing weights. Ecotoxicology 5(5):279–295. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00119051
Sullivan TS, Gottel NR, Basta N, Jardine PM, Schadt CW (2012) Firing range soils yield a diverse array of fungal isolates capable of organic acid production and Pb mineral solubilization. Appl Environ Microbiol 78(17):6078–6086
Takamatsu T, Murata T, Koshikawa MK, Watanabe M (2010) Weatering and dissolution rates among Pb shot pellets of different elemental compositions exposed to various aqueous and soil conditions. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 59:91–99
Tavecchia G, Pradel R, Lebreton JD, Johnson AR, Mondain Monval JY (2001) The effect of lead exposure on survival of adult mallards in the Camargue, southern France. J Appl Ecol 38(6):1197–1207
Thomas VG (2015) Elemental tungsten, tungsten-nickel alloys and shotgun ammunition: resolving issues of their relative toxicity. Eur J Wildl Res 62(1):1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-015-0979-4
Thomas VG, Roberts MJ, Harrison PTC (2009) Assessment of the environmental toxicity and carcinogenicity of tungsten-based shot. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 72:1031–1037. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2009.01.001
Vallverdú-Coll N, López-Anita A, Martinez-Haro M, Ortiz-Santaliestra ME, Mateo R (2015) Altered immune response in mallard ducklings exposed to lead through maternal transfer in the wild. Environ Pollut 205:350–356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2015.06.014
Watson RT, Fuller M, Pokras M, Hunt WG (eds) (2009) Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise
We thank Klosterhedens Vildt, who helped with the purchase of study samples.
We thank 15. Juni Fonden, Arboretet, Kirkegårdsvej 3A, DK-2970 Hørsholm for the grant given to the Danish Academy of Hunting for the study period 2018–2019.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Kanstrup, N., Balsby, T.J.S. Ingested shot in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) after the regulation of lead shot for hunting in Denmark. Eur J Wildl Res 65, 42 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-019-1278-2
- Lead poisoning
- Non-toxic shot