MUTE swans (Cygnus olor) are one of Britain's largest and most popular wild birds. They are usually presented to veterinary surgeons with injuries involving angling equipment such as hooks, line, weights, floats or a combination of these items. Despite the ban on the use of lead weights in angling, swans still manage to pick up discarded weights that have remained in the environment from before the ban or from the few irresponsible anglers who continue to use lead weights. Lead poisoning is a pathological condition in itself, but can also underlie other diseases which occur secondarily to heavy metal-induced immunodeficiency. This article discusses the various types of line and hook injury that are seen in swans and describes how they may be treated. In certain cases of line or hook injury, there may be concurrent heavy metal poisoning and this should always be tested for.
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