No ducks could be rescued
A Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust vet nurse has described the extent of avian botulism at Tokoroa’s Lake Moananui as the worst she has ever seen.
For months dozens of ducks have been dying from the paralytic disease in the man-made lake and with little being done to combat the severe outbreak, the Ohariu Valley duck rescue facility sent vet nurse Courtenay Ashton Thomas up the country to work with the South Waikato District Council.
She brought a small team of experts and specialist equipment with the aim of capturing as many sick ducks as possible to take back to Wellington for treatment.
But to the teams’ horror, during the two-day operation, not one live duck made it into a cage. Instead it was bag after bag being filled with dead ducks, many of which were severely decomposed.
‘‘It is amazing that we have only gone for a short burst on the far side of the lake and in one rubbish bag alone there are over 20 dead ducks,’’ she said.
‘‘[Botulism outbreaks] can happen anywhere and different environments will produce different outcomes which means you have really got to manage it. We’ve never come across anything this bad or neglected before.’’
Thomas said overgrown shrubbery was by no means helping.
‘‘It’s not the direct cause of botulism but because the ducks get lost in here and maggots then feed off them, it is not ideal,’’ she said.
‘‘It really is a beautiful lake when you drive past but the further you go down the more neglected it is.’’
South Waikato District Council communications manager Kerry Fabrie said the council was disappointed no ducks could be rescued and was looking at how to best deal with the overgrown areas.
‘‘Improving these areas is being reviewed and will be improved as part of the lake management going forward,’’ she said.
Fabrie said the lake is also often lowered in winter to kill off weed and vegetation.
‘‘This will be done this winter. It wasn’t done last winter because we had just released trout,’’ she said.
Thomas said the trust and the council have discussed working closer together next summer when the issue is likely to arise again before it gets out of hand.
‘‘It really is all about education,’’ she said.
Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust’s Joe Knowles, the council’s Brooke Paul and Courtenay Ashton Thomas.