26 September 2023

Snail pellets bringing down dead birds

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Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has asked Mount Tamborine residents to stop using blue snail pellets after the deaths of a number of male and female regent bowerbirds.

Manager Wildlife and Threatened Species Operations at the QPWS, Frank Mills said a member of the public had alerted wildlife officers to the deaths.

“At this stage, the suspected cause of death is blue snail pellets, and several carcasses have been provided to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital to determine the cause of death,” Mr Mills said.

“The discovery of these bird deaths has been distressing for people in the Mount Tamborine region and we’re currently investigating if the suspected poisoning is intentional or not,” he said.

He said the bowerbird breeding season ran from August to January, and to attract a mate, the male bowerbirds would build a structure called a bower from grass and sticks.

“He will decorate the structure with colourful items, and male bowerbirds are renowned for being attracted to blue items such as clothes pegs, plastic items and other colourful items,” Mr Mills said.

“Unfortunately, we believe the males are decorating their bowers with the blue snail pellets, which contain toxic substances which could be causing the bird deaths.”

He said as males regularly stole from other male’s bowers, there was the possibility of more bird deaths.

Mr Mills said the bowerbird deaths were currently limited to the Mount Tamborine region, but wildlife officers wanted to hear from members of the public to determine the range of the deaths.

“We are surrounded by wildlife which is wonderful, but we have to realise the impact we can have on it is often detrimental,” he said.

However, he stressed that birds could also die from natural causes, such as exhaustion after being caught in storms, or from algal blooms in waterways.

Mr Mills said that anyone who notices a large number of deceased bowerbirds or any bird species, they could report it to the Department on 1300 130 372.

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