Dead birds found at wetlands following botulism outbreak

Frederick Baldwin Park. Picture: Jon Hewson
Frederick Baldwin Park. Picture: Jon Hewson

A NUMBER of birds have died at lakes around Perth during Easter following outbreaks of botulism.

A spoonbill, 13 ducks and a Carnaby’s Cockatoo are among the birds who have died at Frederick Baldwin Park in Kardinya following Autumn rains.

Lake Claremont, the Riverton Bridge Foreshore along the Canning River and a small lake in Meadow Springs have all seen birds impacted by the disease, which causes a gradual paralysis of all muscles.

Six dead ducks were removed from the small lake bordered by Glenelg Way, Pebble Beach Boulevard and Grandmere Parade in Meadow Springs, where people like to walk dogs.

Spoonbill found at Frederick Baldwin Park. Picture: Kim Frost

According to WA Seabird Rescue, the outbreaks are natural but council management of wetlands could make things better or worse.

The organisation’s volunteers have taken on the task of removing dead and dying birds from the wetlands over the Easter break.

WA Seabird Rescue treasurer Fiona O’Sullivan said anybody who encountered the birds should call the organisation.

“If someone sees a sick bird then it’s more likely to survive if we can get out there,” she said.

“The birds are impacted by paralysis, so it will look like they can’t move and then they can’t move their heads and they end up drowning.”

Ducks at Frederick Baldwin Park. Picture: Kim Frost

In its statement the organisation recommended regular water testing, keeping nutrients level low and not throwing bread or any other food into the water as wilds birds know how to find their own food sources and when water levels got low, they did not want to encourage the birds to stay there.

Other birds and humans can only be impacted by the disease if they eat the birds.

City of Melville acting chief executive Mick McCarthy said that throughout the year they were working to ensure its wetlands and water quality were improved and kept healthy including at Fred Baldwin Park.

“Botulism is a naturally occurring soil bacteria and when we experience warmer water temperatures and higher nutrient levels from decomposing vegetation, fertilisers or other causes, this can unfortunately cause an increase in bacteria levels which then leads to an outbreak,” he said.

“In terms of improving and maintaining good water quality, our environmental teams do a lot of work in wetlands right across the City including annual water quality monitoring, weed removal and replanting wetland buffer zones with native vegetation.

“The City has also partnered with the Water Corporation to improve stormwater quality entering wetlands, successfully implementing the Bull Creek Catchment Water Quality Improvement Plan, and has also retrofit drains according to new Water Sensitive Urban Design principles in an ongoing and concerted effort to improve water quality.

Call 6102 8464 or 0418 952 683 after hours to get in touch with the organisation.