The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) believes approximately 150 dead and sick corbeaux found at the Heliport in Chaguaramas may have been feeding on the carcass of an animal which was poisoned. The Veterinary Public Health Unit of the Ministry of Health, the Poultry Surveillance Unit (PSU) of the Ministry of Food Production, the EMA and Forestry Division went to the heliport yesterday to try to determine the cause of the birds' death.

In a telephone interview yesterday, CEO of the EMA Joth Singh said the authority had received reports about the dead and dying birds and had launched an investigation. "We can't identify an environmental cause as such that they were exposed to," he reported. "There were 150 birds, we estimated. There was nothing else in the vicinity. We have been liaising with the Poultry Surveillance Unit, which is part of the National Disease Centre, to see if it was a case of the avian flu."

Singh said preliminary tests had shown avian flu had not killed the birds. "That was not the cause and there is speculation that they may have been poisoned, that they were poisoned by an animal or carcass that they ate. We are trying to eliminate the causes and we have not found any chemical spills or seen any anywhere," he said.
© Abraham Diaz
A Ministry of Health official wears protective gear as he carries a dying corbeaux past several others that are dead or dying at the Chaguaramas heliport yesterday. The birds began literally falling from the skies in mysterious circumstances.

When a T&T Guardian team visited the area, several of the birds were on the ground while others were still alive but appeared to be unable to fly. One of two lay in the Western Main Road. In a media release, Peter Campbell, corporate communication and public relations officer at the Chaguaramas Development Authority, said the authority was investigating the discovery of more than 100 black vulture carcasses along the eastern end of the heliport.

"Following the sightings, the Veterinary Public Health Unit of the Ministry of Health, the Poultry Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Food Production, Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and Forestry Division were all alerted and samples of the carcasses have been taken for testing. We will advise later of the test results," he said.

Public Affairs Officer of the T&T Defence Force Major Al Alexander said, "We are collecting them and have them bagged and insulated in large metal bins. We had EMA and PSU and they did testing. They took samples of the birds to Mt Hope for testing." Alexander said Fire Services will be on standby to bleach, wash and hose down the area.