WDFW established the hotline as part of its ongoing investigation into lead poisoning of trumpeter swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties. According to WDFW wildlife biologist Paul DeBruyn, swans are found dead every winter in these counties as well as parts of southern B.C. after ingesting lead shot in areas where they feed.
Lead shot ammunition has been banned in the U.S. since 1986, when it was determined that large numbers of birds and animals were dying after swallowing lead shot discharged by hunters. As well, scavenger animals have fallen sick after eating animal remains. The widespread use of lead ammunition can contaminate the environment and is harmful to humans. Trumpeter swans have been known to ingest stray shot while foraging in shallow underwater areas or in fields.
DeBruyn cautions anyone who encounters dead or ill swans to avoid touching the birds, but to call the hotline so a WDFW employee can collect it.
To report a sick or injured swan, call 360/466-4345, extension 266. Callers should be prepared to leave a message with their name, phone number, location and the condition of the swan. The hotline is available 24 hours a day until the end of March 2016.
For more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov.