Magpie geese

Magpie geese
Authorities are investigating after about 80 birds were found dead at Hasties Swamp near Atherton.

Tully man David Clarke was showing friends around the Tablelands on Wednesday when they came across the gruesome scene.

"We could see a big flock of birds on the edge of the lagoon," he said.

"When we were driving out, we discovered a sick bird on the road.

"There was no injury to it, so we released it back into the water.

"Then we saw the dead bodies of dozens of birds and ­others in a dying state, that's when we realised something drastic was going on.

"It was distressing to see birds flapping around dying."


Mr Clarke reported the deaths and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and Biosecurity Queensland are now investigating.

A QPWS spokeswoman said rangers found about 80 dead birds, mainly magpie geese, which may have been killed by avian botulism.

The paralytic disease is caused by ingestion of a toxin produced by the bacteria, Clostridium botulinum.

It can be present in the birds' food sources such as insect larvae.

"Bird deaths from botulism are annual events in Northern Australia at this time of year," she said.

"Samples are being taken at Hasties Swamp on Friday to determine if botulism or some other cause is responsible.

"Results should be known in about a week.

"QPWS has erected signage at the park to warn visitors."