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Effects of heptachlor-treated cereal grains on Canada geese in the Columbia Basin

June 9, 2009

In 1976 and 1977, die-offs of birds of several species occurred in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Oregon. Detection of high levels of heptachlor epoxide (HE) in tissues of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) prompted this study to determine the extent and impact of heptachlor contamination on geese on two study areas on the Columbia River--the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge (Umatilla) in Oregon and Washington and on the McNary Recreation Area (McNary) about 65 km upstream in Washington. Nest success of Great Basin Canada geese (B. c. moffitti) at McNary was 90.2 percent compared to 5I.7 percent at Umatilla. HE in eggs was correlated with nest success--95 percent of the nests from which sample eggs contained <1 ?g/g of HE were successful compared to 20 percent of those with eggs that contained >10 ug/g. Eggs from McNary were essentially clean of organochlorine pollutants, while eggs from Umatilla contained an average of 2.93 ?g/g of HE and a maximum of 24.29 ug/g. Lethal levels of HE were detected in brains of resident Great Basin Canada geese and over-wintering Taverner's geese (B. c. taverneri) that were found dead on or near Umatilla: The source of HE in geese appeared to be ingestion of seeds treated with heptachlor for wireworm control. The small population of moffitti is in danger of extirpation from heptachlor. Recommendations for minimizing the heptachlor problem include: (1) improved handling of treated grain to decrease its availability to wildlife, (2) use of treated seed only in areas requiring wireworm control, and cessation of prophylactic use, particularly on wheat planted in irrigated circles immediately following potatoes, and (3) replacement of heptachlor with a safer chemicaL

Citation Information

Publication Year 1979
Title Effects of heptachlor-treated cereal grains on Canada geese in the Columbia Basin
Authors L. J. Blus, C. J. Henny, D.J. Lenhart, E. Cromartie
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 5210360
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center