A deadly disease is still killing and maiming birds on the North Shore this summer, despite Auckland Council efforts to clean up polluted waterways.
Veteran bird rescuer Sylvia Durrant, also known as the Bird Woman of Browns Bay, says she has received 14 ducks in the past week – all with botulism.
Mrs Durrant, who has treated more than 4000 birds in the past 25 years, says botulism, unless treated early, brings animals a slow, painful death.
She says five out of six botulism-affected ducks handed into her recently have died.
The ducks were found by workers at the council-managed Colonial Road oxidation ponds in Northcote.
During summertime, ducks easily contract botulism because lower pond and stream levels make it easier for the disease to reach the surface.
Mrs Durrant says she sucessfully treated seven of eight ducks found elsewhere. On Sunday, she released them into Browns Bay Creek.
She considers the creek safe because the tide washes silt out to sea.
Auckland has experienced its driest summer in 50 years, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
Lindsay Waugh, chair of the Kaipatiki Local Board, says the council has tried to reduce the number of deaths at different locations, including the Northcote ponds, by laying reed mats to prevent birds stirring-up silt.
She also says immediate efforts are being concentrated on containing pollutants at the ponds.
“It’s a complicated issue. There’s a much wider waterway pollution problem the council has to deal with.”
Waugh says wider issues, including the Colonial Road ponds, were discussed at a council meeting last Wednesday. No decisions were reached.
She says stormwater systems will eventually need to be replaced and the council is still in the investigative stage considering “all options, so it can provide the best outcome”.
Devonport-Takapuna councillor Chris Darby says that mats are also in use in Takapuna’s Lake Pupuke.