This long-time resident of Gardom Lake was found dead on June 4, 2020. A post-mortem showed the male loon died of lead poisoning from ingesting a lead fishing sinker. (Photo contributed)

This long-time resident of Gardom Lake was found dead on June 4, 2020. A post-mortem showed the male loon died of lead poisoning from ingesting a lead fishing sinker. (Photo contributed)

Longtime resident loon at Gardom Lake found dead from lead poison

Toxicology test shows fishing tackle responsible for death

The mournful evening songs of a loon have been heard recently at Gardom Lake.

These are not usual sounds but the cries of a resident female loon who is lamenting the loss of her mate, surmised Liz Gudrun Winter, a lake resident and president of the Gardom Lake Stewardship Society.

On June 4, a dead male loon was found on the lakeshore. He hadn’t been dead for long, so residents froze the body and shipped it to an Environment Canada lab for a post-mortem.

In the loon’s stomach was found fishing gear: a lead sinker as well as a spinner and fishing line. But the spinner and the fishing line did not kill him. Toxicology reports revealed the mature male died of lead poisoning.

Winter and her spouse affectionately called him Mr. Gavia Immer, the Latin name for the common loon. He was one of just two resident loons – the other, his mate.

“He’s a long-time resident,” Winter said, having lived herself at the lake for 35 years and her spouse, 45. “He’s truly a fixture at the lake. Everyone who comes listens to his song. I think everyone is attached to the loons.”

Not only has he left his spouse alone, it leaves future hatchlings in question, she said.

“I think they mate for life. It was really upsetting to find him.”

Read more: 2017: Protecting Gardom Lake

Read more: Province says park will stay in community group’s hands

A 2003 study from the Canadian Wildlife Society entitled ‘Lead fishing sinkers and jigs in Canada: Review of their use patterns and toxic impacts on wildlife’ shows the Gardom Lake issue is not a new one.

It stated that lead sinker or jig ingestion is the single most important cause of death of adult Common Loons reported in Canada and the United States, commonly exceeding deaths associated with entanglement in fishing gear, trauma and disease.

The study also stated that lead fishing weights that weigh less than 50 grams or are smaller than two centimetres in any dimension are generally the size that has been found to be ingested by wildlife.

Winter said directors of the Gardom Lake society would like to explore having fly fishing only at the lake and work towards a ban on lead weights. They also mention that loons are diving ducks attracted to flashy fishing lures, so people should refrain from trolling their tackle in the vicinity of the birds.

Winter said she’s not against fishing, she’s just against the use of lead sinkers that are toxic to wildlife.

The Gardom Lake loon pair have been nesting near Winter’s home for years so she notices the changes in the sounds they make. She’s heard special songs when the eggs hatch, with little gentle vocalizations. And recently, the songs of loss at late night and in the early morning.

“The night cries have just been really, really mournful,” she said. “To have one of them gone from a preventable reason is very sad.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmbirdsDeath

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A lead sinker, fishing line and a spinner were found during a post-mortem in the stomach of a dead loon found on June 4, 2020 at Gardom Lake. The bird died of lead poisoning. (Photo contributed)

A lead sinker, fishing line and a spinner were found during a post-mortem in the stomach of a dead loon found on June 4, 2020 at Gardom Lake. The bird died of lead poisoning. (Photo contributed)

This long-time resident of Gardom Lake was found dead on June 4, 2020. A post-mortem showed the male loon died of lead poisoning from ingesting a lead fishing sinker. (Photo contributed)

This long-time resident of Gardom Lake was found dead on June 4, 2020. A post-mortem showed the male loon died of lead poisoning from ingesting a lead fishing sinker. (Photo contributed)

Just Posted

The Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke’s homeless outreach coordinator Carly Shipmaker and practicum student Sarena Bryden take a turn on Thursday, May 6 on the stationary bike. They were cycling under the blue sun canopy outside the CMHA thrift shop to promote Mental Health Week and to prepare for this year’s Ride Don’t Hide event in June. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Getting the wheels turning for Salmon Arm’s Ride Don’t Hide event

Canadian Mental Health Association awareness and fundraising campaign to run throughout June

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Interior Health provided updated data breaking down the vaccine administration totals in communities throughout the region on Monday, May 3, 2021. (File photo)
Nearly 40% of Shuswap adults vaccinated

More than 12,000 people in the Salmon Arm health area received their first COVID-19 vaccine

Ian Syme gets ready to swing the bat during skills training and picture day for Salmon Arm Minor Baseball 6U players at the Hillcrest Elementary field on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Young Salmon Arm ballplayers in training

Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association seeking sponsorships for batting cage

The monthly totals from Jan.1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 show COVID-19 cases for most Local Health Areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, other than Vernon’s with the largest population, staying well below 400. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
16 months in, COVID cases in North Okanagan-Shuswap areas stay under 1,000

Vernon, with the largest population, hovers under 900 cases since January 2020

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street officially opened on March 31, 2021. (Brennan Phillips)
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Hospital District reverses funding decision on care centre

Approval now granted to fund $1 million for Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Penticton

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin checking drivers on BC highways

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
New temporary outdoor shelter in Kelowna opens

The new area on Richter Street and Weddell Place replaces the Baillie Avenue site

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read