Botulism turned Baldivis lake toxic

Botulism turned Baldivis lake toxic

A LAKE in Baldivis recently turned toxic with botulism – and feeding the birds there with bread contributed to the problem.

Resident Cathy Heritage said she noticed sick birds at Rivergums Park several weeks ago.

“It began in December when I noticed sick and dead birds around the lake,” she said.

“I love birdlife so I called Western Australian Seabird Rescue. There is nothing worse than seeing a bird on the pavement suffering.

“I also called the council. They were great – they came out the next day and got to work taking all the mess, algae and rubbish out.

Mrs Heritage wanted people to be aware of the problem.

“The lake had Botulism making the birds sick. One thing that doesn’t help is feeding birds bread,” she said

“I know people think it is harmless, you see families with kids doing it. It’s the combination of everyone doing it along with those who feed excessive amounts of bread that causes it.

“I want people to understand how damaging it is to the birds.

“We all like to see the birds out there but healthy ones so please don’t feed the birds bread.”

WA Seabird Rescue Volunteer Sharon Manson, who rescued some birds from the lake, explained the cause of the infection.

“It happens when a common soil-borne bacteria becomes more concentrated. Factors such as hot conditions, low water levels and an increase in nutrients in the water make the bacteria growth prolific,” she said.

“The result is avian botulism which causes paralysis and if not caught early, death in wild birds.”

City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said the lake had since been cleaned.

“The water quality at the lake deteriorated this summer more than any previous summer. It is likely attributed to a build-up of nutrients in the water body,” he said.

“Staff added a natural enzyme product to the lake which breaks down the algae and clears the water.

“It has been effective in other lakes within the City and if successful at Rivergums a program will be developed for its ongoing treatment.”

He said longer term options were being investigated and the City was aware of people feeding birds.

PIC 464654:

Rivergums resident Cathy Heritage and WA Seabird Rescue Volunteer Sharon Manson.