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Swan Deaths

Volume 81: debated on Tuesday 25 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will conduct an investigation jointly with the Nature Conservancy Council to ascertain the relationship between the increase in river traffic and the incidence of swan deaths, with a view to making recommendations; and if he will make a statement.

There is circumstantial evidence that the problem of lead poisoning of swans by ingestion of fishing weights is particularly acute in waterways which do not have an abundance of acquatic vegetation, often as a consequence of an increase in river traffic. This is thought to be because discarded or accidentally spilt shot remains more easily accessible to swans where vegetation is sparse. However, the problem of lead poisoning is not confined to waterways with heavy river traffic and I am satisfied, from the scientific evidence provided by the Nature Conservancy Council, that the major and direct cause of deaths of swans is the ingestion of fishing weights. I do not consider it necessary to conduct any additional investigation along the lines suggested.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report a list of those rivers and the counties through which they flow, where a noticeable rise in the number of swan deaths has followed an increase in river traffic; if he will make available any other information his Department has gathered on this subject; and if he will make a statement.