The deaths of over 100 long-billed corellas discovered near the Murray River are being investigated by the Victorian wildlife watchdog.
The birds were spotted by wildlife carer Kirsty Ramadan, who was dispatched by the Yorta Yorta facility to Barmah, near the Victorian/New South Wales boundary, on Wednesday to capture a sick long-billed corella. She discovered 105 long-billed corellas, all of which were dead or dying.
The initial report also stated that there were five dead birds nearby, one of which had been observed to fall lifeless from a tree, according to Ramadan in a post on the Bohollow Wildlife Shelter Facebook page.
On the grounds of the center, she discovered ten birds.
“As I began to see dead birds scattered around the neighboring streets and bushland, I quickly realized the number of birds involved was enormous,” she added.
We are investigating the deaths of more than 100 little corellas at Barmah last Wednesday.
We are working to determine if the deaths were caused by a disease or as a result of human actions.
If you know anything about this case, please call @CrimeStopperVic on 1800 333 000. pic.twitter.com/Evlw1fwJgj
— Conservation Regulator Vic (@ConservationReg) June 6, 2022
Some of the birds were discovered alive, but they died within hours. Ramadan brought some birds to an Echuca veterinary facility, where an autopsy revealed significant gut and gizzard haemorrhaging.
Ramadan believes the birds were poisoned, but it’s unclear whether they were the intended victims.
“These birds are falling out of trees, in mid-flight, and into the Murray River and puddles due to severe thirst, which is an indication of poisoning,” she said.
“There are a lot more dead birds out there that I haven’t been able to find yet, as well as ones who are suffering.” Please notify us if you observe any birds in the region, including Barmah, Nathalia, or Numurkah. If you come across five or more dead birds on the mass, please snap photos and email them to us.”
The Victorian Conservation Regulator said the deaths were being investigated and that it was “trying to identify if the deaths were caused by a disease or as a result of human acts.”
Poisoning animals with the intent to kill it is punishable by up to $18,174 in fines or six months in prison under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975.
Poisoned grain used to kill rats can also attract birds.
In Australia, there are three species of corella, the most common of which is the small corella. Only southeast Australia is home to long-billed corellas.
After a suspected poisoning occurrence, sixty corellas fell from the sky in Adelaide in 2019.
Some local governments in Western Australia kill little corellas because they are considered a pest. The City of Rockingham, on Perth’s southern outskirts, has deployed specially engineered wheelie bin traps, claiming to have assisted in the catch and death of over 1,000 birds.
Anyone with information regarding the deceased parrots near the Murray River should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, according to the Victorian regulator.
This article by Calla Wahlquist was first published by The Guardian on 7 June 2022. Lead Image: A wildlife carer found 105 dead long-billed corellas at Barmah on the Victorian banks of the Murray River last week. Photograph: Supplied by Kirsty Ramadan.
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