Residents of a rural community on the Tyrone-Armagh border were left horrified following the discovery of hundreds of hen carcasses in a nearby river.
The gruesome find on an embankment of the River Oona, which runs into the nearby River Blackwater, was made by a passerby out walking their dog on Wednesday morning.
Some of the freshly deceased brown egg laying hens were also found in the river which runs from Eglish towards the Armagh border.
One resident, speaking to Tyrone I, said he and other residents were “shocked” to see the hens illegally disposed of over the top of the Oona Bridge.
“Many dead hens have ended up missing the river and are lying on the river bank whilst hundreds may have made their way down stream,” said the resident. “This is a serious concern, not only for the pollution of the river, but the current bird flu restrictions.”
He said people in the area are “absolutely devastated that someone in the local community could commit such a crime that will harm many of our rivers”.
He added: “It is possible that this particular breed of ‘egg producing brown hen’ has came from somewhere that they are no longer needed due to their age and egg production slowing down.
“The department came out yesterday [Wednesday] and made it clear that an investigation is underway. It was discussed that together with the vets they hope to carry out postmortem on the dead birds to see if they can get a lead as to what farm the hens have came from and if they are in fact carrying any diseases; they will be speaking with local residents.”
Tyrone I has approached the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for comment.