Mercury in Birds and Mammals
As part of the environmental impact studies of the Grande Baleine and the Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert (NBR) hydroelectric projects, Hydro-Québec has collected numerous data on the levels of mercury in wildlife from both regions between 1989 and 1991. The collection of specimens was conducted with the collaboration of the local Cree trappers and Inuit hunters. Species sampled included birds (waterfowl and Gulls), terrestrial mammals (marten, mink, ermine, fox, hare, and caribou) and aquatic mammals (freshwater and marine seals, belugas). Most laboratory analyses were done both on flesh and liver, but some were conducted on other tissues, such as feathers, eggs, blubber, kidney or brain. The results indicate that total mercury in flesh may reach high levels (> 0.5 mg kg-1) in piscivorous birds and mammals (terrestrial and aquatic) from these pristine areas. The levels may be very high (> 20 mgkg-1) in some tissues, such as the beluga and freshwater seal livers, but important food resources such as Canada geese, caribou and hare were determined to have mercury levels lower than the Canadian marketing standard of 0.5 mg kg-1.
KeywordsTotal Mercury Mercury Level Terrestrial Mammal Total Mercury Concentration Canada Goose
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