Lead exposure in raptors from Japan and source identification using Pb stable isotope ratios
Nakayama, Shouta M.M.
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Lead (Pb) poisoning is widespread among raptors and water birds. In Japan, fragments of Pb ammunition are still found in endangered eagles although more than 10 years have passed since legislation regarding use of Pb ammunition was introduced. This study was performed to investigate Pb exposure in raptors from various locations in Japan. We measured hepatic and renal Pb concentrations and hepatic Pb isotope ratios of Steller's sea eagles ( Haliaeetus pelagicus ), white-tailed sea eagles ( Haliaeetus albicilla ), golden eagles ( Aquila chrysaetos ), and 13 other species (total 177 individuals) that were found dead, as well as blood samples from three eagles found in a weakened state during 1993 e 2015 from Hokkaido (northern part), Honshu (the main island), and Shikoku (a southern island) of Japan. In the present study in Hokkaido, one quarter of the sea eagles showed a high Pb concentration, suggesting exposure to abnormally high Pb levels and Pb poisoning. Pb isotope ratios indicated that endangered Steller's sea eagle and white-tailed sea eagle were poisoned by Pb ammunition that was used illegally in Hokkaido. In other areas of Japan, both surveillance and regulations were less extensive than in Hokkaido, but Pb poisoning in raptors was also noted. Therefore, Pb poisoning is still a serious problem in raptors in various areas of Japan due to accidental ingestion of materials containing Pb, especially Pb ammunition