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MADISON, Wis. - An injured snowy owl and three tundra swans have recently taken up residence at the Dane County Humane Society’s Four Lakes Wildlife Center, according to a release.
The snowy owl was admitted Jan. 1 with bruising on its outer left wing, a cut on its left leg and evidence of trauma to its left eye, officials said.
The owl’s blood work and X-rays were normal. He is currently eating well and veterinarians cleaned his leg wound, according to the release. They are optimistic the owl will heal with monitored wound care.
“The trauma evident in his left eye is the most concerning injury, and time will tell how his vision will be in that eye once it heals,” said Brooke Lewis, DCHS Wildlife supervisor.
The first tundra swan was seen late last week about 300 yards from shore on Lake Monona, officials said. The bird was having trouble lifting its head and neck, and was seen sitting in the same spot for several days.
The other two swans, also found on Lake Monona, were reported by a concerned citizen who reported seeing the birds with similar symptoms as the first swan, according to the release. The second swan was rescued Monday, and the third swan was rescued Wednesday.
DCHS officials said warning signs pointed to heavy metal toxicity. A blood sample confirmed the birds were suffering from lead poisoning.
“It is too early to say if the swans will recover enough to be released, but we do know that had they stayed out on the ice, they definitely would not have survived,” DCHS Public Relations Coordinator Gayle Viney said in the release.
Swans and other waterfowl most often get lead poisoning by ingesting lead pellets, fishing sinkers or other tackle from the bottom of the lake, according to the release. One pellet or sinker can cause a very slow and painful death for many birds.
“We again acknowledge that this situation is unintentional and believe that most hunters and fishermen are wildlife conservationists and care greatly about protecting wildlife and their habitats,” Viney said. “We continue to hope that by sharing the stories of these animals, the importance of using non-toxic ammunition and lead-free fishing tackle will be appreciated as playing a vital role in protecting Wisconsin’s wildlife.”
DCHS is currently treating five birds with lead toxicity issues – a bald eagle, three tundra swans and an adult goose found in Warner Park, according to the release. Staff are hopeful the swans, bald eagle and goose will pull through.
In order to care for the five birds, the DCHS needs to raise $1,500. Donations can be made online.
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