Vigilance poison: Illegal poisoning and lead intoxication are the main factors affecting avian scavenger survival in the Pyrenees (France)

Publication Year:

A specific surveillance program has been set up to monitor avian scavenger populations in the French Pyrenean Mountains, hosting a high proportion of the French populations. The two main purposes of the study were to identify all causes of death and to investigate poisoning cases. All 170 birds found dead during the 7-year program were submitted to full necropsy, X-Ray, parasitological investigations and consistent analytical toxicology screenings (Cholinesterase inhibitors, anticoagulant rodenticides, organochlorine insecticides, Pb, Cd). Over the study period, 8 Bearded Vultures, 120 Griffon Vultures, 8 Egyptian Vultures and 34 Red kites were eventually collected. Mortality events were often multifactorial, but poisoning was by far the most common cause of death (24.1%), followed by trauma/fall (12%), bacterial diseases and starvation (8%) and electrocution (6%). Illicit use of banned pesticides was identified as a common cause of poisoning (53% of all poisoning cases) and lead poisoning was also identified as a significant toxicant issue (17% of all poisoning cases). Lead isotopic signature could be associated primarily with ammunition. Last, a positive association between trauma and lead contamination was detected, indicating that lead could be a significant contributor to different causes of death. These results urge for severe restrictions on the use of lead ammunition to prevent scavengers from detrimental exposure. KeywordsBirds of prey, Conservation, Lead poisoning, Pesticide, Red kite, Vulture.

Publication Title:

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety

Item Type:
Journal Article

EIS custom tag descriptions