Tundra swans dying from toxic mining waste in northern Idaho

May 2, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Tundra swans are dying along the Coeur d’Alene River flood plain in northern Idaho.

Boise State Public Radio reports an average of 150 tundra swans are found dead in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin every year, poisoned by waste from old mines as they migrate through Idaho on their way to Alaska.

The birds often land in marshy soil and burrow into the mud to eat roots and tubers. But as much as 95 percent of the wetland habitat in the lower Coeur d’Alene River Basin is contaminated with toxic metals like lead, which kills the swans and other birds.

State and federal authorities and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe are working together to try to stop the deaths. They’re trying to keep the birds from landing in contaminated areas, and working to raise river levels to keep the birds away from the poisoned sediment. Ultimately the groups hope to restore the habitat so the birds can safely migrate through the region.


Information from: KBSX-FM.