Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Utah
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Utah Project

Causes and consequences of lead pellet ingestion by chukars

May 2007 - December 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

In a review of lead and non-waterfowl avian species, many have called for additional research on the effects of lead on upland birds, especially raptors. Lead contamination is a pervasive issue. As a result of extensive research, a regulatory ban against lead shot has been implemented for waterfowl species, but the effects of lead on upland species are less well-studied. Available literature for upland bird species is often simply a documentation of ingested lead shot, or reports of individuals of a given species that have succumbed to lead poisoning as a result of lead ingestion. Raptors acquire and accumulate lead through consumption of lead-contaminated species. Humans also risk exposure to unhealthy levels of lead by consuming lead-contaminated wildlife. Not a single study exists concerning the effects of lead ingestion on chukars. The objectives of this study are to 1) determine whether soils near water sources contain greater abundances of lead pellets, 2) explore potential reasons why chukars ingest lead pellets, and 3) assess the toxicity of lead pellets to chukars.