Date: 24 February 2012
At least 60 endangered native birds have been found dead on the Clutha River/Mata Au near Roxburgh. A large number of black-billed gulls/tarāpuka were found dead on Grover’s Island, a known breeding colony site. The incident was reported to the Department of Conservation (DOC) which is investigating likely causes.
"The black-billed gull is endemic to New Zealand and is classified as nationally endangered. Their numbers are in serious decline," said Department of Conservation Community Relations Ranger, Jacob Dexter.
The cause of the mass die-off is not yet known. There was no obvious sign of predation or other obvious injuries to the birds. Samples have been sent to Massey University for testing to determine cause of death. The matter has also been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
"The incident was only reported to DOC earlier this week. Many of the bird carcasses are now decomposed. I have since spoken to people who saw sick and dying birds there in December and January," said Mr Dexter.
Anyone who observes large numbers of sick or dying gulls or any other native birds is encouraged to report it to the DOC Central Otago Area Office in Alexandra. All information will be treated confidentially.
"We rely on the public to report strange occurrences like this mass death to the Department as soon as possible, so we can determine the cause and hopefully prevent further incidences like this occurring," said Mr Dexter.
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