Rotting dead ducks disgust Tokoroa residents

Denise Capper surrounding by ducks at Tokoroa's Lake Moananui.

Denise Capper surrounding by ducks at Tokoroa's Lake Moananui.

Dozens of ducks continue to die in Tokoroa's Lake Moananui as visitors plead with the district council to do more to stop it from happening.

Since January the South Waikato District Council has received 17 notifications about dead and dying ducks at the lake but until late last month, after a media report on the situation, no testing had been done to find the cause.

Denise Capper, who has been visiting the lake on her mobility scooter three times a day for the past 13 years, said every day she was continuing to see up to 12 dead ducks.

One of many ducks dying in Tokoroa's Lake Moananui.

One of many ducks dying in Tokoroa's Lake Moananui.

"I've been down to the council three times to complain but they just don't seem interested," she said.

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* Services leave dying ducks helpless
No test for botulism at Tokoroa lake


"At times the council has not been down for three weeks to pick them up. It absolutely stinks and there are blowflys and maggots."

Fellow visitor Toni Williams said many of the ducks had been left to rot in the water.

"[It's] a great shame that the public can see these scenes. Yet the authority in the area at the same time just drove past," she said.

"[There was] even a carcass, that must have been there some time."

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The council however claims to be checking the situation three times a week.

"We also respond ad hoc to service requests from the public," communications manager Kerry Fabrie said.

Fish and Game Ranger Don Pemberton believes the deaths are due to botulism.

"Lakes, ponds and waterways are heating up and making perfect habitat for the growth of the bacterium which in turn kills the ducks. It causes them to become weak and unable to hold their heads out of the water and therefore drowning," he said

"Until we get fresh rainfall and cooler temperatures the deaths will be ongoing."

Fabrie said 86 dead ducks have been picked up in recent months and one was sent away last month for testing but the botulism toxin cannot be tested for.

"If the autopsy is inconclusive it is ruled by default as avian botulism. In the case of the duck we sent for autopsy no conclusive cause of death was identified," she said.

She said the best way to prevent botulism from spreading was by not feeding the ducks

"Especially don't feed ducks bread. Bread can rot in the lake and this promotes the growth of botulism bacteria," she said.

Waikato Regional Council incident response team leader Derek Hartley said the lake water itself has been ruled out as the cause of the deaths.

"On March 6 staff from our incident response team went to the lake and collected a number of water samples which were tested by NIWA for the presence of toxin-producing algae. The results have been examined by our water scientists and there are no areas of concern with the algal cell count," he said.

Hartley said the lake was the only known case where large numbers of ducks were dying.

"At this stage we've not had any similar reports from other waterways in the area," he said.

Fabrie encouraged people to continue to make reports about the dead ducks and said a sign warning people not to feed the ducks is likely to be erected in the near future.

 - Stuff

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