Artifact Ingestion in Sea Ducks Wintering at Northeastern Lake Ontario

Michael L. Schummer
Ian Fife
Scott A. Petrie
Shannon S. Badzinski
The Waterbird Society
Long Point Waterfowl
Publication Date: 

The incidence of lead shot ingestion in waterfowl has declined in the lower Great Lakes (LGL) following the 1999 Canada-wide ban on use of toxic shot for waterfowl hunting, but few data exist on ingestion frequencies of spent shot or fishing weights for sea ducks wintering at the LGL. Artifact ingestion was evaluated in 269 Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola), 224 Common Goldeneyes (B. clangula) and 256 Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) collected at Lake Ontario during winter 2002-03 and 2003-04. Long-tailed Ducks ingested total shot (lead and steel shot combined) more frequently (6.6%) than did Common Goldeneye (1.8%) and Bufflehead (0.4%). Lead shot was ingested by Long-tailed Ducks (5.1%) and Buffleheads (0.4%), but not by Common Goldeneyes. One Long-tailed Duck, 0.1% of all specimens, ingested one lead fishing weight. Substrate type influenced artifact ingestion frequency and diving ducks that specialize on prey associated with hard substrates may continue to ingest artifacts more than ducks using soft substrate marshes. The results suggest lead toxicosis from spent shotgun pellets is presently non-existent to low in sea ducks wintering at northeastern Lake Ontario and that further restrictions on use of lead fishing tackle may have little implication for sea ducks in this region. Received 12 March 2010, accepted 14 July 2010