Panic gripped some villages in Abohar subdivision of Fazilka district on Friday following the death of about 50 birds, including 37 ducks, in the open wildlife sanctuary here.
Reports said villagers spotted 37 ducks dead in a pond at Sitti Huno village, about 20km from Abohar, on Friday morning.
“The ducks roamed through the village early in the morning before entering the pond where 36 of them collapsed suddenly while four others were found unwell,” said Vinod Kumar, a local resident.
The villagers informed the health department about this. When a health department team arrived, they distributed masks to villagers as a measure of precaution suspecting it to be some disease.
Meanwhile, some birds, including crows, owls and lapwings etc were also found dead near the pond.Finding the sudden death of so many birds alarming, panic gripped the area residents, who suspected it to be case of bird flu. A team of veterinary department also reached the spot and took samples of the dead birds and pond water.
“Even as the exact cause of deaths could not be ascertained, we suspect that pond water might have got poisonous, leading to sudden deaths,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
Local residents were angry over non-availability of a veterinary doctor in the sanctuary where animals and birds collapse in the absence of any aid. They blocked Situ Guno road along with dead ducks for a few hours.
Later on, Abohar naib tehsildar Jaspal Singh Brar persuaded the protesting residents to lift their dharna and assured to fulfill their demands.
"The exact cause of the incident will be revealed after getting report of samples sent to a laboratory in Jalandhar,” said Fazilka deputy commissioner Manjit Singh Brar.
The deputy director, animal husbandry, has been asked to depute a veterinary doctor at Sittu Guno village by Monday, the DC said.
More than two dozen crows have died at Patrewala village recently and the cause of their death has not been ascertained so far. The wildlife sanctuary is Asia's biggest spread over 46,500 acres across thirteen villages.