More Than 100 Australian Birds Die in Suspected Poisoning

Long-billed corellas on a tree branch in Australia
Long-billed corellas in Australia. Andrew Haysom / iStock / Getty Images Plus

When Kirsty Ramadan of the Bohollow Wildlife Shelter was called out to Barmah, near the border of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, to help a sick bird, she was confronted with much more than she bargained for. 

The report she heeded told her that there were five dead birds near the ailing long-billed corella she was there to rescue. Instead, she encountered more than 100 dead or dying birds. 

“I headed out, not knowing what to expect but when I arrived in Barmah it was clear that something was seriously wrong,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Ramadan said she at first gathered 10 dead long-billed corellas, but kept finding more in the area. 

“I quickly realised that the number of birds involved was huge as I began to see dead birds scattered everywhere around the surrounding streets and bushland,” she wrote. “Amongst the dead there was the occasional live bird. I began the tedious task of methodically searching through the streets of Barmah and in surrounding bushland.”

In the end, she photographed a total of 105 dead birds, but she said that more of them were still dead or dying in the area. 

Ramadan took some of the birds to the Echuca Veterinary Clinic, where an autopsy revealed signs of poisoning, including hemorrhaging in the intestine and stained material in the gizzard. 

“These birds are dropping dead out of trees, in mid air and falling into the Murray River and puddles due to excessive thirst which is again, a symptom of poisoning,” she wrote. 

Ramadan said that she collected around 10 birds who were struggling but still alive, yet all of them died within hours. 

The Victorian Conservation Regulator is now working to investigate the deaths, reported.

“We are working to determine if the deaths were caused by a disease or as a result of human actions,” the regulator said.

Anyone with information about the case can call 1-800-333-000.

The Wildlife Act of 1975 makes it illegal to poison wildlife in Australia, and offenders can face fines of $18,174 and or six months in jail. However, Ramadan said on Facebook that it was unlikely the perpetrators would be caught and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said it was possible that the birds had gotten into grain that had been poisoned to combat rodents, Australia’s ABC News reported. However, diseases like psittacine beak and feather disease have also killed native birds in Victoria. 

The long-billed corella is a type of medium-sized white cockatoo native to southeastern Australia, according to eBird. As their name suggests, they have a very long upper mandible with a sharp point. They are considered a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. 

Ramadan told ABC News that parrot species are often seen as pests in rural Australia. However, she urged a different attitude towards wildlife. 

“Native wildlife face hardship on every level from human activities, there is no animal on earth who is a greater inconvenience, liability and threat to wildlife than Homo sapiens,” she wrote on Facebook. 

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