Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, February 24, 2012

Disease outbreak kills more than 4000 birds, New Zealand

A suspected avian botulism outbreak in Christchurch's wetlands has killed more than 4000 birds, taking the death toll to above that from the Rena oil spill.

Increased sewage levels in the Bromley oxidation ponds, the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and the eastern wetlands caused by the earthquake may be responsible for the outbreak, according to a conservation officer.

In an email obtained by The Press, council ornithologist Andrew Crossland told council staff and conservation organisations that more than 10 per cent of the area's population had died due to the outbreak.

The email, which used figures from December 20 last year, said that 3877 dead birds had been collected in the area.

The worst-affected species were the paradise shelduck, which lost more than 85 per cent of its population (1415 birds), the mallard/grey duck (49 per cent, or 385 birds), and the grey teal duck (13 per cent, or 495 birds).

The deaths meant there would be a "substantial decrease in numbers" in Avon-Heathcote and Bromley, as well as at "source areas and migration/dispersal destinations".

Several other significant species, including the scaup, shoveler and royal spoonbill, had also been suffered losses, "but not at levels that the population can't recover from in one to three years".

Crossland said the death toll would have had a catastrophic effect on just about any other wetland complex in the country. Read More