Investigation underway as 20 dead birds recovered from Goodmayes Park lake

An investigation has begun into the death of at least 20 birds in Goodmayes Park, with early signs indicating an outbreak of avian botulism. 

Park officials are probing the issue and have requested support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

One video taken in the park, which is managed by Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure (RCL), appears to show an affected goose exhibiting symptoms of avian botulism. 

The individual who filmed the bird, who did not wish to be named, claimed to have seen four or five dead geese on the lake last week and said that the the park’s duck population had disappeared. 

Geese in Goodmayes Park, believed to have died of the mystery illness

An investigation has started into the deaths of birds, including geese, in Goodmayes Park - Credit: Supplied

Christian Gibson, operations and grounds maintenance manager for Vision RCL, said it was aware of the issues at the lake and had made a start on investigating the issue. 

He said that his team had retrieved around 20 dead birds from the lake but urged members of the public not to try to do the same.

He said that “at first appearance”, there were signs that the birds may be afflicted by a bout of avian botulism but that it would “make no assumptions”. 

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He added that staff were regularly patrolling the area and were undertaking visual inspections three times a day.

According to an Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) report on the disease, affected birds can sometimes experience paralysis of their neck muscles. 

This can cause them to lose the ability to hold their head normally – so-called limberneck – which can be seen in the video. 

The lake in Goodmayes Park, usually home to a range of water fowl

The lake in Goodmayes Park, usually home to a range of water fowl - Credit: Daniel Gayne

They can remain in this state for a number of days and typically die from respiratory failure or drowning, the report added.

According to the individual who filmed the video, the goose died shortly after it was taken. 

Avian botulism outbreaks in wild waterbirds occur relatively frequently in England and Wales, the APHA report said, but diagnosis can be difficult. 

When outbreaks happen, it explained large numbers of birds may be affected which can result in hundreds of deaths. 

The disease is often found in lakes in periods of low-oxygen conditions and poor water quality, the report added.

A Defra spokesperson said: “Where dead or sick wild birds are reported to the Defra helpline we will investigate as necessary as part of our disease surveillance work.” 

Park staff have emphasised that there is no risk to the public, but urged anyone who wants to make a report to contact the parks service on Parks.Enquiries@visionrcl.org.uk. 

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