Lead gunshot ingestion by a Peregrine Falcon

Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13157/arla.65.1.2018.sc1

Authors: Alessandro ANDREOTTI, Ivano FABBRI, Simonetta MENOTTA and Fabrizio BORGHESI

E-mail: alessandro.andreotti@isprambiente.it

Published: Volume 65.1, January 2018. Pages 53-58.

Language: English

Keywords: bird pest control, hunting ammunition, Italy, lead levels in tissues, plumbism and raptors


Lead ammunition represents a source of poisoning for raptors eating game. Although the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus commonly preys on gamebirds, only a few cases of lead poisoning have been recorded, probably owing to the lack of specific investigations. We document an adult female found dead with many lead shot in the digestive tract, mixed with the remains of a feral Pigeon Columba livia domestica and a European Starling Sturnus vulgaris. Concentrations in heart blood clot, liver, kidney and bone suggest that lead poisoning was not the ultimate cause of death. However, lead levels in the blood clot suggest that a small amount of lead may have been absorbed from the shot. The two prey species involved cannot be hunted in Italy but they are intensively shot all year round to prevent damage to crops.

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