On 1 August 2012, prey remains were collected under a Goshawk nest at the Mookse Berg, Noord-Limburg, The Netherlands, evidence of a diverse diet. In one of the regurgitated pellets an airgun pellet was found. This pellet probably originated from a pellet-carrying prey that had been caught alive, since breeding Goshawks usually don’t scavenge. Pellets can remain embedded in live animals that had been non-fatally shot. In this case, the victim may have been an adult Jackdaw Coloeus monedula, as a large flock residing near a farm some 2-3 km from the Goshawk nest had been illegally shot at 3-4 years ago (hunting with an airgun is not permitted). Pellets are mostly made out of lead (Pb). In the literature, it has been shown that shotgun pellets and fragments of lead bullets are frequently found in pellets regurgitated by raptors. Moreover, higher lead concentrations were recorded in blood taken from live raptors during the game-hunting season. Hunting poses a risk of lead poisoning for species that are frequently targeted, and, by default, their predators and scavengers. Lead bullets have been banned to some extent to protect the environment, and alternatives have been developed, but lead airgun pellets are still legal in The Netherlands. In the literature, poisonous lead concentrations have been found in raptor blood when 17% of the raptor pellets contained lead shot. In this regard, the present finding of a single airgun pellet in several hundreds of examined regurgitated pellets of Goshawks is not alarming. Nevertheless, raptor researchers are encouraged to be on the alert for lead shot in pellets, to assess local risks of plumbism.

De Takkeling

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Werkgroep Roofvogels Nederland

K. Schreven. (2014). Een luchtbukskogeltje in een braakbal van een Havik Accipiter gentilis, in de context van jacht en loodvergiftiging. De Takkeling, 22(3), 225–229.