News & Events

Residents warned not to touch ducks

Thursday February 28 2019

Palmerston North City Council is warning people not to touch ducks in the city after some ducks tested positive for avian botulism.

Photo shows swimming duck.

Over the past 10 days some sick and dead ducks have been found around parks – especially Hokowhitu Lagoon.

Wellington Fish & Game Regional Manager Phil Teal says the botulism toxin-producing bacteria is naturally present in the mud of the lagoon but the hot, dry weather exacerbates it.

“When the water levels are lower it is easier for the ducks to be exposed to the toxin when they are feeding.”

It can cause them to become paralysed and die.

The bacteria only poses a risk to humans if they eat an infected duck.

The Council’s Parks and Reserves Manager, Kathy Dever-Tod says parks officers are checking on the ducks each day.

Things you can do to help

  • Don’t feed the ducks – this will encourage them to move to a different waterway to get food.
  • Don’t touch dead fish or birds with your bare hands. Let the Council know and we will remove them.
  • Don’t let your pets eat dead fish or birds.
  • Don’t eat undercooked or improperly prepared fish or birds.

The Council will be installing signs at the Lagoon, Square, Esplanade and Memorial Park asking people not to touch or feed the ducks.

Ms Dever-Tod says the Council is also installing a water pump that will soon be able to pump clean water from the Manawatū River into Hokowhitu Lagoon.

“This will help maintain the lagoon’s water level and help decrease the chances of our ducks getting sick from illnesses like avian botulism in the future.”

Fish & Game’s Phil Teal says that the focus is on preventing it from spreading. “This involves removing any dead birds as quickly as possible, and discouraging birds from staying at the site. These response actions are in place.”