A new disease is paralysing and killing Perth’s beloved magpies, promptingcalls by the State Government and wildlife shelters for people to be on thelook out for affected birds and link them with help where needed.
In some cases the disease — a type of botulism which first appeared in Perthin 2018 and gets worse in hotter months — is wiping out entire flocks,according to Darling Range Wildlife Shelter, which has reported a big increasein cases in recent weeks.
The shelter issued a plea for residents of Perth and surrounds to keep an eyeout for any wobbly, weak or paralysed magpies and bring them into shelters ifthey see these conditions.
Other species affected including ravens, mudlarks and butcherbirds.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractionssaid if you saw a bird that appeared to have paralysis, weakness and theinability to lift its head or fly, it may be suffering from botulism.
“The good news is that botulism can be treated in the early stages, so thesemagpies and ravens have a chance of survival if they receive early supportivecare,” the spokesperson said.
Darling Range Wildlife Shelter liaison and support manager Yasmin Hunter saidaffected magpies should be easy to catch in order to be brought into ashelter.
It is important to keep note of their exact location so recovered birds can bereturned to the right place, she said.
The increase in reports has prompted an investigation involving partiesincluding the DBCA, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development,Perth Zoo, Murdoch University and wildlife shelters.
DBCA said botulism was normally associated with waterbirds, but could occur incarnivorous birds like magpies if they ingest the toxin by eating maggotswhich have been feeding on infected carcasses.
“More work is needed to better understand this condition, and wildlife centresand the public have an important role to play in monitoring and futureresearch,” the DBCA spokesman said.
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