More dead ducks spotted at Verulamium Lake amid fears botulism has returned

One of the dead ducks in Verulamium Park - photo courtesy of Barry Kimber

One of the dead ducks in Verulamium Park - photo courtesy of Barry Kimber - Credit: Archant

Several more dead ducks have been spotted at Verulamium Lake amid fears that botulism has returned.

Last week there were a number of dead swans found at Verulamium Lake

Last week there were a number of dead swans found at Verulamium Lake - Credit: Archant

Last week the Herts Advertiser reported that a number of swans were found unwell at the lake and died, with the Swan Sanctuary citing botulism as the cause.

It comes after hundreds of ducks died last summer from avian botulism, a paralytic disease caused by bacteria in the water.

The outbreak was the result of a build up of silt in the lake combined with warmer temperatures.

St Albans resident Barry Kimber has contacted the Herts Advertiser in previous weeks about various duck deaths but said that Saturday (23) was a particularly ‘bad day’. He went on: “Saturday was a bad day in the park. Probably eight dead birds, a mix of mallards and coots – no swans, and a dead fish.”

St Albans district council has yet to confirm that botulism is the cause as no official tests have been carried out.

Barry added: “You would think that however the swans died that the council would want to know.”

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Various other readers have contacted the Herts Advertiser about the lake, including five-year-old Hal Looker who quoted his letter to the council.

It read: “I have just walked round the lake and I saw two poorly Canada Geese. This made me sad. The lake smells like rotting cabbage. There is too much algae. Please can you save Verulamium Lake.”

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said the RSPCA should be called to make the council accountable for the welfare of the wildfowl, especially as the lake was a visitor attraction.

St Albans council’s head of community services, Richard Shwe, confirmed that the council was aware of a spate of wildfowl deaths at the park last weekend and was investigating. Updates could be found on the council’s website.

He said: “We are undertaking a number of initiatives to improve the aquatic environment around Verulamium Park lakes.

He explained that the council have recruited a new, dedicated park ranger to work full-time on the lakes over the rest of the summer.

Mr Shwe said: “He is already at work and has been tasked with monitoring the health of the wildfowl, the water flow from the River Ver and the water quality.

“The ranger will also be engaging visitors and educating them about the harmful consequences of feeding the birds.

“We are also talking to our waste contractor about removing some of the unsightly silt that has gathered at the edge of the larger lake.”

He added: “In the longer term, we are working with the Environment Agency on an ambitious scheme to restore the Ver to is more natural state to improve the water flow through the lakes.”