Fighting for pelicans
Deadly disease impacts bird life in Golden Beach area
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.
BIRD CARERS: Bridgette and Paula Powers from Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue.