As boaters, we encounter resident and migratory water birds quite regularly, including the swans who fly over northern Washington waters. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-established a hotline to report injured, sick, or dead swans as part of its efforts to track the impact of lead poisoning. Both trumpeter and tundra swans are susceptible to lead poisoning from ingesting lead shot in the areas that they feed. Lead shot has been banned in Washington for water fowl hunting since 1991, but some residual shot can still be ingested.
People in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and any other western Washington county can call (360) 466-4345 ext. 266 to report an injured or dead swan. Callers may be asked to leave a short, detailed message including their name and phone number, location and condition of the swans. The line is open 24 hours a day through the end of March. People are advised not to touch or collect an injured swan, according to WDFW biologist Dr. Daniel Zimmerman.
People are asked to please call the hotline instead, and trained WDFW and Puget Sound Energy employees will pick up the birds. The WDFW has been working since 2001 to identify and remove sources of toxic lead in the environment, and the hotline is a component of that effort.