The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-established a hotline to report dead, sick or injured swans in three northwest Washington counties as part of its ongoing effort to assess the impact of lead poisoning on trumpeter swans.
People can call (360) 466-4345, ext. 266, to report dead, sick or injured swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties. Callers should be prepared to leave a message including their name and phone number, and the location and condition of the swans.
The hotline is available 24 hours a day through the end of March.
Some trumpeter swans in those three counties, and in southwestern British Columbia, die each winter from lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot in areas where they feed.
Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in Washington for more than 25 years. But swans can still pick up and ingest lead shot while foraging in shallow underwater areas in fields and roosts where lead shot is still present.
“People who observe dead, sick or injured swans are advised not to handle or collect the birds,” said Paul DeBruyn, WDFW wildlife biologist for Skagit and Whatcom counties.
“Instead, people should call the hotline,” he said. WDFW and Puget Sound Energy employees, as well as authorized volunteers will pick up the birds.
WDFW and other agencies and organizations have been working since 2001 to reduce swan mortalities and locate sources of toxic lead.