The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has re-established a hotline to report dead or ill swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties.
People can call 360-466-4345, ext. 266, to report dead or sick swans. Callers should be prepared to leave a message including their names and phone numbers, and the location and condition of the swans. The hotline is available 24 hours a day through the end of March.
Some trumpeter swans in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, and in southwestern British Columbia, die each winter from lead poisoning after ingesting lead shot in areas where they feed.
Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl hunting in Washington and British Columbia for more than a decade, but biologists believe swans are likely reaching shallow underwater areas in fields and roosts where spent lead shot is still present.
People who see sick or dead swans are advised not to handle or attempt to move the birds, said Jennifer Bohannon, Fish and Wildlife biologist. Crews will pick up the birds.
Apr, 19, 2009
Admire that cuddly seal pup from long distance
DEAN KAHN / THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
As a wildlife biologist, Mariann Carrasco's area of expertise is terrestrial vertebrates - mammals, reptiles and basically any land-lover that gets around with the help of a spine.
But she has studied marine mammals, and they hold a claim on her heart, too.
That's why she put in the legwork four years ago to start a local network of people who respond whenever a living or dead marine mammal is stranded ashore.
Around here, that means seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and whales.
Now, after Carrasco's years of effort, the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network has 30 trained volunteers and is holding its first benefit fundraiser this Saturday, April 25.
The timing is good, because summer and early fall is the network's busiest time.
June and July is when harbor seals give birth to their pups. The moms typically park their pups on shore while spending the day fishing, then return in the evening to nurse.
Problems arise when people see the pup, with its adorable face, presume it has been abandoned, and take it home to care for it.
Resist the urge.
Besides the fact you'd be violating federal law, the mother seal will return later and find her pup gone. If the pup is gone long enough, the mother will move on without it. If that happens, the pup may have to be raised at a wildlife center, an expensive proposition.
Other dangers lurk, too. Seals and other marine mammals can spread disease, and they can and will bite people and their snoopy dogs.
"They're not the cuddly animals you see in SeaWorld," Carrasco said.
Come September and October, those seal pups will start to wean and live on their own. Some won't survive - that's Mother Nature at work - and will wash ashore dead.
Dead marine mammals can raise a stink, literally. You might be tempted to dispose of the remains, especially if the smell is making life unpleasant at your beach house.
Don't do it.
Instead, volunteers from the network will investigate the animal's death, then find the best way to deal with the carcass.
That's not always easy, especially if there's no way to bring in a boat or tractor to move a large carcass. That was the situation with a sea lion that washed ashore near a restaurant in Birch Bay.
"Needless to say, I got a lot of calls from the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce," Carrasco said.
So, if you live near the beach, or like to walk on the beach, remember this:
If you see a marine mammal on shore - whether alive or dead - stay at least 100 feet away from the animal. Ditto for your dog.
Call 966-8845 to alert the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network. A trained volunteer will come to the beach to determine the best course of action.
If you see other people and pets in the area, remind them to stay away from the animal.
If you see a dead marine mammal, don't dispose of the carcass. Call 966-8845, and move upwind.