Elizabeth Henson, The AdvertiserJuly 12, 2019 8:54pm
At least 50 birds with “blood coming out of their mouths” have fallen from the sky and landed in a primary school north of Adelaide, horrifying young students.
The RSPCA, the Environment and Water Department and the Primary Industries and Regions Department are investigating the incident that occurred at One Tree Hill Primary School, in front of children in Out of School Hours and Vacation Care at the site, on Wednesday afternoon. The school posted on its Facebook page that there were “no survivors,” saying the wild corellas were believed to have been poisoned.
“I received a distressing phone call from a worker at school who was finding the very sick birds all over the school,” the post read. The children in vacation care were very upset at the scene of birds falling from the sky and in pain with blood coming out of their mouths.”
“The children were so caring and wanted to make sure the birds were getting some help.”
The post went on to thank the local wildlife rescue organisation – Caspers Bird Rescue – for attending the school and collecting the birds. Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Jess King, 26, told The Advertiser authorities needed to get to the bottom of how the mass death occurred.
“Somebody needs to answer as to what has happened,” she said. “Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, you don’t just go throwing poison down (recklessly).”
Ms King said Caspers Bird Rescue took the birds to veterinarians in Para Hills and Roseworthy for treatment, however all but one to be euthanased.
“There was no way to treat them – they’ve all ingested so much,” she said. “It’s quite devastating to be completely honest.”
“In the five and a half years we’ve been active…we have not seen something like this before and neither have the vets.”
Initially, the school believed all of the birds had died. However, Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Sarah King said one corella had survived against all odds.
“That’s pretty amazing,” she said. “Unless you get a bird that you literally see (eat poison), there’s not much you can do.”
However, Ms King said the bird’s condition was still precarious.
An RSPCA spokeswoman confirmed the RSPCA was investigating the incident but said it was too early to speculate on the cause. An Environment Department spokeswoman said the agency was also investigating the incident in collaboration with PIRSA.
“A disease investigation is underway,” she said. “Samples are being retained for potential toxin testing, which would take several weeks to complete.”
An Education Department spokeswoman said the department had been in contact with the school about the matter.
“This is a concerning situation,” she said. “We are reaching out to the school to offer any support they require.”
A Playford Council spokesman said the council did not use poison as part of its bird control measures.
“In the past two years, the City of Playford, has invested significant resources into non-lethal strategies to deal with marauding Little Corella flocks with limited success,” he said. “These non-lethal measures, last undertaken in 2018, included use of a predatory hawk and gas guns. At no time has council implemented any measures that include the use of poison.”