An alarming escalation in the number of lorikeets being affected by a debilitating illness has prompted urgent action by wildlife service WIRES.
WIRES says Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome is affecting hundreds of lorikeets daily in northern regions of NSW which. It estimates that thousands of birds have now been affected by the syndrome in the region.
To help cope with the numbers of affected birds being found by rescuers and the public WIRES has set up a Lorikeet Drop-Off Point at 8 Kemp St, Grafton. The centre is open daily from 9am to 4pm including weekends with WIRES wildlife vet Dr Tania Bishop on site to provide immediate assessment, triage and treatment.
The centre opened on Tuesday this week and received 91 cases of affected birds on its first day according to Dr Bishop.
"We are extremely grateful to the concerned members of public bringing birds in for assessment and to the local vet clinics for helping share the load," said Dr Bishop.
"The sooner an LPS affected bird gets an assessment the better their chance of survival - we couldn't save them without the much appreciated assistance of the community."
WIRES has also deployed an Emergency Responder to Grafton along with three additional emergency responders and Wildlife Ambulances that have travelled from the greater Sydney region to assist in rescue, transport, and immediate care.
WIRES has also activated its Disaster Relief team to assist members needing urgent resources.
Since the first build up of cases three weeks ago WIRES' dedicated volunteers and local veterinarians have been managing this crisis including the rescuing, evaluating, and providing immediate care and rehabilitating affected lorikeets.
The WIRES Emergency Response team continues to liaise with veterinary practices, EPA, Wildlife Health Australia, RSPCA, and Vets Beyond Borders to address this challenging event.
Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome primarily affects wild rainbow lorikeets, causing paralysis and an inability to fly.
It can cause afflicted birds to appear unbalanced and become unable to fly, despite not showing apparent injuries. As the disease progresses, birds will lose control of their limbs and beaks entirely.
The cause of the syndrome remains unknown with ongoing research aimed at identifying the causative agent which is potentially linked to the ingestion of a toxin possibly formed on a plant due to the extreme rain and heat.
The disease is seasonal between October and June, with the highest number of cases from December to February. Despite the significant number of reported cases, the actual impact may be more significant due to mass collection and drop-off to veterinary clinics.
Members of the public encountering lorikeets suspected of LPS are urged to follow guidelines provided by WIRES, including cautious handling, suitable container use, and refraining from giving food or water during transport.
WIRES also thanks the local veterinary clinics, especially the Grafton Veterinary Clinic, for their tireless efforts in treating affected lorikeets. An admission spreadsheet for tracking birds and share data to aid in tracking the outbreak has been provided.
Anyone witnessing lorikeets displaying symptoms of LPS contact the WIRES 24/7 Rescue Office on 1300 094 737.
The WIRES Lorikeet Drop-Off & Triage Centre is open 9 am - 4 pm daily including weekends at 8 Kemp St, Grafton.