UPDATE: Warrnambool City Council says approximately 50 birds have presented either with signs of illness or been found dead.
“The death of native wildlife falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and council has taken advice from DEWLP and Agriculture Victoria in the handling of the situation,” a council spokesman said.
“DELWP are continuing to oversee and monitor the incident and are carrying out their own investigations.
“Signs were erected at Lake Pertobe on Monday advising the public that Blue Green Algae may be present in the water.
“We would advise people and pets to avoid contact with the water or any sick or dead birds.
“Anyone with any concerns can contact DELWP directly.”
EARLIER: Warrnambool wildlife carers say they have found more than 40 dead birds at Lake Pertobe after a toxic outbreak.
Signs have been placed around the water at the adventure playground’s lake, with Warrnambool City Council and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning advising humans and animals to keep out, as it may cause ‘serious harm’.
Wildlife carer Alexis Creed-Sycopoulis said she had advised the council of the dead ducks two weeks ago after noticing them on the Australia Day long weekend.
She believes the birds have avian botulism, which is caused by the bacteria clostridium botulinum, a naturally occurring organism living in lakes and ponds.
The city council did not respond to questions from The Standard about the signs, why they had been erected, if there was any health warnings to the public or if avian botulism was present.
Outbreaks occur when there is a combination of low water levels, warm temperatures and lack of oxygen in the water.
Ms Creed-Sycopoulis said she had four sick ducks euthanised, which didn’t include the ill ducks she could not reach.
People need to be aware that feeding bread to the ducks is not only bad for the ducks but contributes to the conditions that pollute the water, making birds sick.Alexis Creed-Sycopoulis
“Their symptoms are typical of avian botulism which result in paralysis - they can’t hold their necks up and as a result will drown,” she said.
She said feeding bread to birds contributed to higher nutrient levels in the water, which in turn led to an increase in the soil bacteria that caused avian botulism.
“People need to be aware that feeding bread to the ducks is not only bad for the ducks but contributes to the conditions that pollute the water, making birds sick,” she said.
“I’m hoping council will be erecting signs at Lake Pertobe and the botanical gardens warning people about the dangers of feeding bread to ducks and wildlife.”
Agriculture Victoria advises pet owners to prevent their animals from eating fish, birds or maggots potentially affected by avian botulism.
It said the quick removal of dead birds was important in dealing with an outbreak.