Falling from the sky

Dead birds littering the streets of Gunning have left community members scratching their heads and asking why.

Debbie Lewis has been investigating the bird kill since her son came across a dead galah in the school playground two weeks ago.

“That afternoon he and a friend went down to the park [and] they found another one that was unwell,” Ms Lewis said.

The boys picked up the bird and took it home, hoping to nurse it back to health, before going in search of more sick animals.

Ms Lewis has since recorded 36 deaths, mostly galahs but also several cockatoos, but is unsure if there are more people haven’t told her about.

Several birds were taken to veterinary clinics across the region after concerns the birds had a virus that could be passed onto humans.

Goulburn veterinarian Peter Wright did an autopsy on some galahs that had been taken into his clinic.

Chelsea Rohde from the clinic said the veterinarian couldn’t find anything to determine why the birds had died.

“He didn’t see any signs of the infectious disease,” she said.

Ms Lewis said one veterinarian also reported the birds’ stomachs were empty.

NSW Health confirmed last week there was no threat to human health.

“Essentially they don’t know what the birds have died from. However, they know it’s not anything contagious that humans should be concerned about,” a NSW Health spokesman said.

Ms Lewis said it was a concern in the community, particularly considering several birds were found at the school

“I think most people teach their children to rescue wildlife,” Ms Lewis said.

She said she’d be thinking twice now about letting her son rescue birds.

The Gunning mother said this type of thing had happened in the past around the area, with reports of 200 birds dying at the end of one summer.

She said she just wanted to find out why they were dying, even if it was an annual phenomenon.

“Is it something we need to prevent or be aware of?” she asked.

Something Ms Lewis was most concerned about was the lack of interest, and help, from the Upper Lachlan Shire Council.

She called council to report the kill and said no one had done anything about it.

“It seems strange to me that the council isn’t interested to find out [what killed the birds].”

Upper Lachlan Shire Council said the organisation to talk to was the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

“They’ve given us advice to, if possible, if dead birds are found to collect the bird and forward it to them,” the manager of environment and planning, Roland Wong, said.

The Department of Primary Industries said their officers would be happy to inspect other birds. The birds need to have died recently.

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