The public is warned to stay away from a Victorian reserve after up to 100 native birds were found dead.
Park Victoria confirmed it is investigating the occurrence at Bells Swamp, a conservation park southwest of Bendigo. Suzanne Hughes, a manager at Parks Victoria confirmed in a statement the birds were collected between Thursday and Sunday.
“While we are waiting for the results, Parks Victoria has put up signage at Bells Swamp to warn the public of the potential health risk,” she said. “We ask that people stay away from the reserve until further notice, do not enter the water, do not handle sick or dead birds without authorisation, and take care that pets are kept away from the area.”
Authorities became aware of the issue after being tipped off by concerned locals on Tuesday, the ABC reported.
While initial reports have not produced signs of human involvement, authorities are yet to determine the cause of the event. Yahoo News Australia understands the majority of birds are native ducks, but a number of other species have been affected. Not all of the birds have died; a small number of survivors are being treated by Zoos Victoria.
Sick birds have presented with paralysis which is a common sign of botulism, a disease caused by bacteria in soil and water. It commonly affects waterbirds like pelicans but impacts mammals like wallabies and sometimes even humans. The toxin attacks the body's nervous system, causing problems with breathing and muscle paralysis, and can result in death.
Testing is underway to try and determine the cause of the problem, and results are expected early this week.
Anyone with information about sick and dying birds can contact Parks Victoria on 131963.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.