21 Jul 2011

Investigation into mystery bird deaths in the Marshall Islands

1:38 pm on 21 July 2011

Health and environment officials in the Marshall Islands are mystified at the widespread deaths of chickens and ducks on a small island next to the U.S. Army's missile testing range.

The sudden and unexplained deaths of nearly 100 chickens and ducks on Enibooj Island - which has a population of under 200 people living a largely subsistence lifestyle - sparked an investigation earlier this week.

Samples of the dead bird carcasses have been taken for laboratory testing.

Kwajalein Senator Tony deBrum sought an investigation, saying that dead chickens in a small community should be a matter for emergency health concerns.

The island is located about five kilometres from the headquarters island of the Reagan Test Site, a major missile testing facility operated by the U.S. Army.

Health and environment officials have asked the Marshall Islands Quarantine Department and the Army's Animal Hospital Laboratory to assess what caused the deaths.