June 2021: Bird Deaths – Galahs (Parkes, New South Wales). Pesticide: Bromadiolone

Mouse plague impacts widen to native birds as EPA confirms galahs killed by bait

4 June 2021


An investigation by the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has confirmed numerous bird deaths in western New South Wales were caused by the consumption of mouse bait.

The finding follows reports of native birds suspected to have been poisoned in the Central West.

Toxicology results found some native and introduced species around Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Narromine, Condobolin and the Riverina were poisoned.

Kelly Lacey, the WIRES bird coordinator from Parkes, found up to 100 dead galahs at the town’s cemetery.

“Seeing the dead bodies and picking them up was just truly heartbreaking,” Ms Lacey said.

Ms Lacey said when she arrived there were only two left alive — barely.

She said one had blood in its faeces, which made her suspect their deaths were a result of internal bleeding from eating bait.

“I feel stronger poisons are going to have a great impact on our wildlife,” Ms Lacey said.

Follow guidelines, reduce impacts

The NSW government has announced a $50 million mouse control package that will include the distribution of 10,000 litres of bromadiolone, if it is approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The second-generation anti-coagulant has been widely described as “napalm” for mice and is banned because of its strength.

EPA executive director of regulatory operations Carmen Dwyer said safe baiting was important.

“There’s always the possibility of a non-target animal taking the bait,” she said.

Ms Dwyer urged people to use the bait in the amount recommended on the label.

“We’ll minimise any offsite impacts to our families, our communities, the environment and wildlife,” she said.

Question of strength

Charles Sturt University ornithologist Maggie Watson said the widespread use of second-generation rodenticides could decimate native wildlife populations.

“Some just kill anything that comes into contact with them,” she said.

Dr Watson said there had already been reports of large numbers of animals being killed by treated grain.

“If we bring bromadiolone into the system, we’re just going to wave bye-bye to a whole suite of native animals in the landscape,” she said.