Acute effects of lead, steel, tungsten-iron, and tungsten-polymer shot administered to game-farm mallards

M. E. Kelly, S. D. Fitzgerald, R. J. Aulerich, R. J. Balander, D. C. Powell, R. L. Stickle, W. Stevens, C. Cray, R. J. Tempelman, S. J. Bursian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Sixteen-bird groups (sexes equal) of adult mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were orally dosed with eight #4 steel shot, eight #4 lead shot, eight BB-size tungsten-iron shot, eight BB-size tungsten-polymer shot, or were sham-dosed and maintained for 30 days (16 January 1996 to 15 February 1996). Half of the lead-dosed ducks (five males, three females) died during the study, whereas no ducks died in the other dosage groups. For lead-dosed ducks, hematocrit and hemoglobin concentration were decreased on day 15 of the trial, but not on day 30. Delta aminolevulinic acid dehydratase activity in lead-dosed ducks was lower when compared to steel-dosed ducks only. Plasma activities of selected enzymes were elevated in lead-dosed ducks when compared to enzyme activities of ducks in the other groups. For lead-dosed ducks, relative heart, liver, and kidney weights increased in comparison to relative weights of those organs of ducks in other groups. Histology of tissues indicated that renal nephrosis accompanied by biliary stasis was present in the eight lead-dosed ducks that died. For the eight lead-dosed ducks that survived, six had mild to severe biliary stasis. Mild biliary stasis was noted in five tungsten-iron dosed ducks and three tungsten-polymer dosed ducks. Amounts of lead in the femur, liver, and kidneys were higher in lead-dosed ducks than in ducks of the other four groups. Small amounts of tungsten were detected in the femur and kidneys of two tungsten-polymer dosed ducks. Higher concentrations of tungsten were detected in the femur, liver, and kidneys of all tungsten-iron dosed ducks. The rate of shot erosion was highest (80%) for the tungsten-polymer shot, followed by tungsten-iron (55%), lead (50%), and steel shot (33%). Results indicated that tungsten-iron or tungsten-polymer shot (8 shot/duck) orally administered to mallards did not adversely affect them during a 30-day trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-687
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • Anas platyrhynchos
  • Lead shot
  • Mallard
  • Steel shot
  • Toxicity
  • Tungsten-iron shot
  • Tungsten-polymer shot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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