No ducks could be res­cued

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

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