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Thursday, January 12, 2012

MASSACHUSETTS: State investigating deaths of 16 swans in Westborough

State biologists are unsure what caused the death of about 16 swans near Mill Pond late last month, but say it is unlikely the cause would be harmful to humans.

“I don’t think there are any human health hazards,” said H. Heussmann, a state waterfowl biologist. “There are very few viruses associated between humans and waterfowl.”

Police say a caller reported seeing five to six dead swans floating in Mill Pond on Dec. 17. A total of 16 dead swans were located in the area, said Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Reggie Zimmerman.

“The USDA Wildlife services have taken tissue samples (of the dead swans) and we’re waiting for some test results to come back,” said Heusmann “My suspicion would be it’s some sort of virus, but that’s total guesswork. We do know that they’re not being shot.”

Heussmann said it would take up to a month to get the lab results back and determine the cause of the birds’ deaths.

“Often by the time we determine the cause of a disease outbreak, it’s over,” Heussmann said. Read More