Toxins killed birds at Lake Weeroona: carer

RELATED: Clubs will continue to use lake despite fears

TEN BIRDS have died at Lake Weeroona, with a local wildlife carer blaming an outbreak of botulism.

Wildlife Rescue and Information Network officer Lynne Waller said the birds had been removed from the lake at the weekend and Monday night.

She said the animals all had signs of the illness, including hot body parts, shallow breathing and an inability to stand.

"In my opinion it should be off limits," she said of the lake.

"There are dead and dying birds there and people should not be fishing, letting their dogs in it or doing anything with the water.

"(The toxicity) is serious and something needs to be done fast.

"We can't be losing birds like this."

Ms Waller said the disease could be fatal in both birds and humans, with birds unlikely to survive.

“They don’t usually survive,” she said

 “It’s such a beautiful lake, we just need the problem to be rectified.

“We have birds coming in there now, pelicans could pick it up, swans could pick it up, anything could get it.”

The dead birds include domestic ducks, Black Pacifics and two juvenile dusky moorhens.

Council Parks and Natural Reserves manager Simon Harrison said it was too early to say what had caused the deaths. 

“The City of Greater Bendigo is aware of the deaths of a small number of birds at Lake Weeroona," he said. 

"The cause of death is unknown at this stage, however it is not uncommon for birds to pass away at the lake and (council) staff actively remove any birds that have done so. The (council) tests urban lakes for blue green algae only. 

"December results show there were low levels of blue green algae present and January testing results are yet to be returned."  

Mr Harrison said botulism could be present in the lake. 

"Botulism occurs naturally in soil and the environment, so it may be present in low levels," he said. 

"For the past 14 days, the (council) has also been topping up the lake with class A recycled water" 

An Environment Protection Authority Victoria spokesperson said it "appeared to be a naturally occurring event" and a Department of Environment and Primary Industry spokesperson said the department would work with council over the issue. 

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