Having been in touch with the right people at the lab and at WWT, an interesting telephone conversation yesterday regarding the outcome of post mortems on dead Mute Swans found in North Lancashire and sent for examination, wasn't conclusive as far as I'm concerned, though in making that comment no suggestion is being made that anything I was told about the results was in any way short or withheld.
Some European countries use only non-toxic shot for all shooting, in Denmark this has been the case since 1996, but certainly hasn't in the UK. A debate has been ongoing for many years over the use of non-toxic shot, an issue which remains controversial.
Mute Swan Warren Baker
So no final result for me in why 12 Mute Swans found over a three week period - including two last week - and all within 2 miles of each other were to be deemed as victims of starvation.
But if you are about to suggest that I've been watching at least 400 swans - the vast majority Whooper Swans - in the area around Thurnham/Cockersands for several winter weeks now, all tugging at blades of grass all day long in the same fields, yet twelve have succumbed to starvation, then you have to consider that these twelve were probably already suffering from malnutrition for whatever reason and that towards the end of the winter period in February/March is the time when these birds are most likely to die.
Again, no suggestion is being made in bringing the subject into play, but I want to highlight this....
The shooting press try their best to make it quite clear that there is a misconception that lead poisoning of wildlife is not a problem. It's understandable that some people might underestimate the importance of lead poisoning as birds die regularly and in small numbers and are rapidly removed by predators.
I don't want to make any other comment on here, but I intend trying more enquiries about the mysterious death of this number of birds of the same species in a relatively small area.