Mink (Mustela vison) and river otters (Lutra canadensis) collected during the 1978-1979 trapping season in Oregon were analyzed for organochlorine pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) residues. PCB residues were most frequently encountered in both species from the Lower Columbia River. PCB residues in 6 of 9 Columbia River mink livers were as high as those reported in livers of experimental female mink that experienced total reproductive failure after eating a PCB-contaminated diet of 0.64 ppm for 160 days. Also, some fish from the Columbia River contained PCBs (range 0.24-2.8 ppm) equivalent to or higher than the dietary dosage given in the same laboratory study. River otter livers from the same area contained even higher levels of PCBs [(M) geometric mean 9.3 ppm, (F) geometric mean 3.5 ppm], but the relative sensitivity of the 2 species to these contaminants is unknown. The river otter harvest along the Lower Columbia River has declined in the last 3 decades, whereas the statewide harvest trend is upward. PCBs were generally low or not detected in the remainder of the Oregon locations studied. Lower Columbia River collections also showed the highest organochlorine pesticides (mainly DDE) in both species. We are less concerned about the DDE residues reported, particularly in mink, because mink are less sensitive to DDT than to PCBs. Population declines of both mink and otters resulting from PCB contamination may have occurred, and may still be occurring, along the Lower Columbia River.
Additional publication details
PCBs and organochlorine pesticides in wild mink and river otters from Oregon
Worldwide Furbearer Conference, Inc.
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Other Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Worldwide Furbearer Conference Proceedings: August 3-11, 1980, Frostburg, Maryland, USA