A Tauranga wildlife trust has been inundated with more than 30 birds and other injured or orphaned animals a day, as water shortages and dry conditions foster illness and dehydration.

Dr Liza Schneider, a veterinarian for Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre Wildlife Trust, said it was their busiest time of the year.

Many birds were being brought in affected by botulism, an illness common in hot weather and caused by a toxin in waterways that paralyses birds.

Birds often died from dehydration as a result, with ducks, seagulls and other water birds the most at risk.


The trust had also seen an influx of hedgehogs, which were among animals that struggled to find water in dry conditions.

Dr Schneider said although hedgehogs were not a native species, they could be "wonderful" help in the garden, keeping snails and slugs under control.

"Provide them with a water bowl to prevent dehydration and never give them milk as they cannot digest this and it can be fatal."

It was always important to show compassion and not to let animals suffer, said Dr Schneider.

The majority of the local native wildlife are able to adapt to the heat, she said, as long as they can access food and water, which was not always easy in the hotter months.

Dr Schneider said if wildlife appeared subdued and unresponsive to a threat from a human, then it most likely needed medical attention.

Biodiversity supervisor at the Department of Conservation Pete Livingstone said this prolonged dry spell may also be affecting young birds learning to fend for themselves and young eels.

Many wetlands in the area were protected to keep their water level at the minimum level for an average dry season, he said.


Livingstone said the biggest threats to wildlife that thrived in Bay of Plenty wetlands was deliberate or accidental drainage and fire.

Warren Aitken, the Tauranga City Council's acting parks and recreation manager, said the wetlands that the council managed were mostly within the expected range for this time of year.

However, there was an exception for some stormwater ponds in Pāpāmoa, where water levels were particularly low due to an outbreak of an aquatic weed, he said.

He said the council urged the public to preserve wetlands and protect wildlife by keeping dogs under control and avoiding using motorbikes in areas that may disturb birds.

Locals were encouraged to set rat traps on their property to make the area safer for birds.

What to do if you find an injured bird:

1. Rescue the bird quickly and quietly.

2. Throw a towel or lightweight blanket over the bird.

3. Place the bird in a box and cover the top. The darkness will help calm it.

4. Keep it warm. Fill a hot water bottle with warm water, wrap it in a towel, and place it under the bird.

5. Contact your local SPCA or local bird rescue organisation.


Do not endanger yourself or the bird.

Take care when handling large birds – watch out for beaks and claws.

Don't "bird-nap" – make sure that the bird really does need help.

Source: SPCA