Hundreds of birds killed in botulism outbreak near Firth of Thames

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Hundreds of dead birds are suspected to have been killed by an avian botulism outbreak near the Firth of Thames.

Fish and Game Auckland/Waikato southern game bird manager David Klee said they’d been informed on Wednesday about large amounts of dead birds being found alongside a drain near Waitakaruru.

To prevent the outbreak from spreading, Klee put an urgent call out for volunteers in the area and along with several other agencies conducted a mass clean-up operation on Friday, closing the nearby rail trail for the day.

The team of about 30 people collected about 800 dead birds across a 15km stretch, and managed to rescue six that were taken to NZ Bird Rescue in Green Bay.

“We’ve had some outbreaks in the wider area in the past but not in this drain, and it looks to be a pretty bad one.

“Those were just the birds we could find, but there are likely to have been a lot more killed as the outbreak might have been going for about three to four weeks, and we were just picking up what the scavengers have left.”

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