Mystery over mass kill of animals at Botanic Gardens
LARGE numbers of birds, turtles and lizards have been found dead at Bundaberg's Botanic Gardens.
So many in fact that Bundaberg Regional Council staff have been "picking the dead birds up by the hour and burying them" according to Bundaberg resident Cynthia Hoogstraten.
But the cause of the deaths is a mystery.
Ms Hoogstraten first thought she saw an ibis splashing about it in the water but on closer inspection she realised it was more sinister.
"I just thought it was flaying about - but then realised it was dead and a number of eels and turtles were making a meal of it," she said.
"This drew my attention in and a then I saw more dead birds and a turtle."
She said the magpie geese looked sick and she heard they had been poisoned at a nearby farm.
"I spoke to Botanic Gardens staff who said they had been picking the dead birds up by the hour and burying them," she said.
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesperson said the cause of the deaths had not yet been determined but early indications were consistent with poisoning.
"Dead moorhens, water dragons and eels have also been found in the area and it is possible that these animals may have ingested the bird droppings from poisoned birds," they said.
"Tissue samples have been collected for toxicity testing in a laboratory."
Bundaberg Regional Council environment and natural resources spokesman Bill Trevor said the council was notified about the dead animals on Monday.
"Staff are now monitoring the health of birds within the gardens and would advise visitors not to approach or handle the birds," he said.
Cr Trevor said if the deaths were found to caused by humans the council would find it abhorrent and would hope the perpetrator faced the full extent of the law.
Queensland's native wildlife is protected by the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and associated regulations.
It is illegal to interfere with or "take" a native animal, including birds, without a permit.
Penalties depend on the conservation status and the number of birds killed but can be as high as $365,700.
Anyone with information about animals being poisoned can phone the EHP on 1300 130 372.