Fight­ing for pel­i­cans

Deadly dis­ease im­pacts bird life in Golden Beach area

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - NEWS - Shayla Bul­loch Shayla.Bul­[email protected]­news.com.au

WILDLIFE res­cuers are wor­ried about a toxic dis­ease “out­break” af­ter a spate of dead pel­i­cans around the Coast.

Sea bird carer Brid­gette Pow­ers was shocked by the num­ber of pel­i­cans struck down by bot­u­lism, a toxic dis­ease that paral­y­ses the an­i­mal, and said it was the worst she had seen.

In the past three weeks, 10 pel­i­cans were re­ported with bot­u­lism around Golden Beach, with four of those found dead. The area was once home to more than 100 pel­i­cans, but Brid­gette said there was no more than 20.

Lec­turer in an­i­mal ecol­ogy at Univer­sity of Sun­shine Coast, Dr Do­minique Potvin said while the dis­ease was com­mon, weather changes and land de­vel­op­ments in­creased its like­li­hood.

Dr Potvin said the dis­ease was born in hot en­vi­ron­ments of stag­nant wa­ter and in­gested into sea life through the small crea­tures they ate.

“Con­struc­tion sites are huge for that, with stag­nant wa­ter and ripped up soil for an­i­mals to thrive in,” she said. If caught early, the dis­ease could be treated in pel­i­cans but Dr Potvin said they weren’t the only an­i­mal af­fected.

“An­i­mal wet­lands are now sur­rounded by suburbs so th­ese re­ported de­creases (in pel­i­cans) are more no­tice­able as they’re in close prox­im­ity to en­vi­ron­ment,” she said.

“But other birds in­clud­ing ducks and geese are also im­pacted, as well as tur­tles.”

The Twin­nies Pel­i­can and Seabird Res­cue re­cently re­ha­bil­i­tated six pel­i­cans back to health and re­leased them back into the wild. They still have six pel­i­cans in care. If you see a sick pel­i­can call 5439 9995.

PHOTO: PATRICK WOODS

BIRD CAR­ERS: Brid­gette and Paula Pow­ers from Twin­nies Pel­i­can and Seabird Res­cue.

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