PARK visitors have raised concerns after seeing rangers remove a number of dead birds from a lake.

According to Taylor Park users who have contacted the Star, rangers have removed several corpses "floating" on the lake and there are warning signs telling people not to use the waters or let their dogs go in.

The dead birds are being tested but the cause is believed to be a disease called avian botulism, which can flare up during hot weather.

One park visitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "Recently some of the wildfowl on the lake have been found floating on the water dead. Park rangers keep removing the corpses but the council do not seem to be investigating the cause of the deaths or even checking the condition of the water in the lake."

He added: "As a Green Flag park, Taylor Park should be an ecologically sound area but the lake has been plagued with weed that is not only unsightly but traps all sorts of rubbish and has now clogged the fountain that was installed to oxygenate the water."

A spokesperson for St Helens Council said: "Following the discovery of several dead birds on the lake at Taylor Park and our knowledge of a similar issue affecting birds on a lake in Wirral, we have taken advice and have provided precautionary warning signage around the park to prevent people or dogs from using the water for the time being.

"We are in the process of getting the dead birds tested and, once known, the cause of death may determine a different approach."

A spokesman for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency said the deaths were likely to be caused by avian botulism.

The spokesman said: “In recent weeks we have received a number of reports of dead wildfowl in north west England.

"Our investigations have found no evidence of a risk to human health."

He confirmed some birds found dead in the region have tested positive for avian botulism and explained that the disease is not unusual at this time of year.

He said: "Hot spells lead to green algae on the water which, when it evaporates, can cause avian botulism."

He said there is no direct risk to human health and said it should not be confused with bird flu.

However, he added, park goers should not come into contact with the water or dead birds as, although they cannot catch avian botulism, they may become ill due to the birds' state of decay following death.

Anyone finding five or more dead wild birds should call the Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Helpline on 08459 33 55 77.