Еpidemiological Data on Lead Tissue Concentration in Game Birds Induced by Lead Pellets

Petar Stamberov 1 , Chavdar Zhelev 2 , Toni Todorov 1 , Sofiya Ivanova 3 , Tandzhu Mehmedov 1 , Iliyan Manev 1 , and Ella Taneva 1
  • 1 University of Forestry, 10 Kliment Ohridsky Blvd.,, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 2 National Research Station of Wildlife, Management, Biology and Pathology, 5 Iskarsko Shose Blvd,, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 3 National Diagnostic and Research Veterinary Medical Institute „Prof. Dr. Georgi Pavlov”, Sofia, Bulgaria


The paper presents the level of lead in the liver, gizzard, breast muscles and humerus of game birds, shot during the hunting season of 2016 - 2017 in Bulgaria. In quail gizzards (n=10) radiographic examination showed ingested pellets. In turtle doves (n=10), lead levels in the liver had higher values of 2,501 ± 1,404 mg/kg, compared to the maximum levels of <2 mg/kg. The content of lead in the humerus of partridges (n=10) showed a very high concentrations of 54,241 ± 36,731 mg/kg compared to the base level of 10<20 mg/kg. The high levels of lead in the tissues of the game birds, induced by lead shot exposure, are a significant risk to predators and scavengers.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bellrose, F. C., 1959. Lead poisoning as a mortality factor in waterfowl populations. Bulletin of the Illinois Natural History Survey, 27, 231-288.

  • Buerger, T. T., R. E. Mirarchi, M. E. Lisano, 1986. Effects of lead shot ingestion on captive mourning dove survivability and reproduction. Journal of Wildlife Management, 50, 1-8.

  • Butler, D. A., R. B. Sage, R. A. H. Draycott, J. P. Carroll, D. Potts. 2005. Lead exposure in ring-necked pheasants on shooting estates in Great Britain, Wildlife Society Bulletin, 33, 583-589.

  • Clausen, B., C. Wolstrup, 1979. Lead poisoning in game from Denmark. Danish Review of Game Biology, 11, 1-22.

  • De Francisco, N., J. D. Ruiz Troya, E. I. Aguera, 2003. Lead and lead toxicity in domestic and free living birds. Avian Pathology, 32, 3-13.

  • Fisher, I. J., D. J. Pain, V .G. Thomas, 2006. A review of lead poisoning from ammunition sources in terrestrial birds. Biological Conservation 131, 3, 421-432.

  • Frank, A., 1986. Lead fragments in tissues from wild birds: a cause of misleading analytical results. Science of Total Environment, 54, 275-281.

  • Franson J. C., D. J. Pain, 2011. Lead in birds. In: Beyer W. N., Meador J. P. (eds). Environmental contaminants in biota: interpreting tissue concentrations. Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida, pp. 563-593.

  • Guitart, R., J. Figueras, R. Mateo, A. Bertolero, S. Cerradelo, A. Martinez-Vilalta, 1994. Lead poisoning in waterfowl from the Ebro delta, Spain: Calculation of lead exposure thresholds for Mallards. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 27, 289-293.

  • Kanstrup, N., 2012. Lead in game birds in Denmark: levels and sources. Danish Academy of Hunting Article, 2, 1, 1-17.

  • Kendall R. J., P. F. Scanlon, 1981. Tissue lead concentration in Japanese quail ingesting lead pellets or shot with lead pellets. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 26, 652-655.

  • Kendall, R. J., T. E. Lacher, Jr. C. Bunck, B. Daniel, C. Driver, C. E. Grue, F. Leighton, W. Stansley, P. G. Watanabe, M. Whitworth, 1996. An Ecological Risk Assessment of Lead Shot Exposure in Non- Waterfowl Avian Species: Upland Game Birds and Raptors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 15, 1, 4-20.

  • Keymer, I. F., R. S. Stebbings, 1987. Lead poisoning in a Partridge (Perdix perdix) after ingestion of gunshot. Veterinary Records, 21, 276-277.

  • Lewis, L. A., S. H. Schweitzer, 2000. Lead poisoning in a northern bobwhite in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 36, 180-183.

  • Lewis, L. A., R. J. Poppenga, W. R. Davidson, J. R. Fischer, K. A. Morgan, 2001. Lead toxicosis and trace element levels in wild birds and mammals at a firearms training facility. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 41, 2, 208-214.

  • Mateo, R., 2009. Lead poisoning in wild birds in Europe and the regulations adopted by different countries. In: R. T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W. G. Hunt (Eds.). Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition, Implications for Wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA. doi 10.4080/ilsa.2009.0107

  • Ohi, G., H. Seki, K. Akiyama, Y. Hiroshi, 1974. The pigeon, a sensor of lead pollution. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 12, 1, 92-98.

  • Pain, D. J., I. J. Fisher, V. G. Thomas, 2009. A global update of lead poisoning in terrestrial birds from ammunition sources. In: Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans. In R. T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W. G. Hunt (Eds.) The Peregrine Fund, pp. 99 - 118.

  • Runia, T. J. A. J. Solem, 2014. Spent lead shot availability, distribution, and ingestion by male ringnecked pheasants and acute effects of lead pellet ingestion. South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, Pierre, USA, Wildlife Division Report, 10, 1-66.

  • Schulz, J. H., J. J. Millspaugh, B. E. Washburn, G. R. Wester, J. T. Lanigan III, J. C Franson, 2002. Spent- Shot Availability and Ingestion on Areas Managed for Mourning Doves. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 30, 112-120.

  • Stamberov, P., T. Todorov, S. Ivanova, M. Alexandrov, K. Hristov T. Mehmedov, I. Manev and E. Taneva, 2017. Levels of lead in tissues of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos, L) experimentally exposed to shot pellets. Tradition and Modernity in Veterinary Medicine, 2, 45-51.

  • Yamamoto, K., M. Hayashi, M. Yoshimura, H. Hayashi, A. Hiratsuka, Y. Isii, 1993. The prevalence and retention of lead pellets in Japanese quail. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 24, 478-482.


Journal + Issues