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Posted Sun Apr 19 2009: from Seattle Times:
Toxic marshes deadly to swans: Coeur d'Alene River laden with lead from Silver Valley mining
Even near death, tundra swans are graceful. Snowy necks arch and flex as the birds -- victims of lead poisoning -- gasp for breath. Wings rise and fall in rhythmic sweeps, but the birds are too weak to take flight. Their cries are soft, trilling sounds. Each spring, thousands of tundra swans stop in the marshes along the Coeur d'Alene River as they migrate north to breeding grounds in Alaska. Some never make it out of the marsh. As they feed on roots and tubers, the swans swallow sediment polluted with heavy metals from mining waste. At high enough levels, the lead shuts down their digestive systems, causing the swans to gasp for air as food backs up into the esophagus and presses against the windpipe. The birds grow emaciated, starving to death on full bellies.
[Read more stories about: contamination, massive die-off, unintended consequences]

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