MPI rules out avian flu after 100 dead birds found in Wānaka

by Kim Bowden - May 07, 2024

The Ministry of Primary Industries has ruled out avian influenza or any other exotic disease as the cause of death for close to 100 birds in Wānaka.

Now the investigation will continue to try and determine what did kill the flocks of birds found littering the lakeside, and a paddock, at Dublin Bay on Monday, May 22.

A spokesperson for the government agency, says they are "working with potential suppliers to carry out toxicology tests".

Among the dead birds were 88 dead endemic paradise shelducks - or pūtakitaki - a black swan, nine Canada geese, and a mallard duck.

Staff from Fish & Game who visited the site reported seeing no signs of any injuries that could have explained the birds' deaths.

Globally, there is heightened awareness of avian flu, as American cattle farmers contend with its spread in livestock.

Earlier, MPI had said ruling out an introduced disease was the agency's main priority in regards to the Wānaka find. 

"Large numbers of dying birds are not uncommon and can have environmental causes such as algal blooms and botulism," a spokesperson said.

Main image (Supplied/Otago Fish & Game): Most of the 100 dead birds found in Wānaka were paradise ducks.

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