Plum Island Investigation -
Strangeness & A Dead Owl
"Hoot"...There It Is!
By Patricia Doyle <>
As you may know, I had been investigating the Plum Island ARS/APHIS facility which is located less then 2 miles from Orient Pt. There is now a PR campaign to present the facility as a model of safe lab operation. First of all, let me address the fact that Plum Island IS A BIOLEVEL 5 facility. I have attached a couple of pages that do describe the facility as biolevel 4 and then 5.
The page from SUNY Stony Brook is a couple of years old. It describes some consideration to coordinate Plum Island, SUNYSB, BNL and CSH (Cold Spring Harbor) (CHS is on the North Shore of Long Island) experimentation. It does mention that there was a consideration to use the level 4 lab at Plum Island for some of their (SUNYSB) level 4 pathogens.
The media PR states that Plum Island is a biolevel 3 facility seeking funds to upgrade to biolevel 4. In fact it is a biolevel 5 facility seeking funds to maintain that level. There are a few biolevel 5 facilities worldwide. Last Fall, 1998, not far from the United Nations biolevel 5 facility in Trieste, Italy, there was an outbreak of almost the identical strain of the altered (N.Y.) West Nile/Kunjin Virus.
Since Plum Island's new media campaign, I have noted there has been no mention of West Nile/Kunjin, or, dead birds. Although, people have been telling me that from time to time, they have seen dead crows in the area, I have not seem it mentioned in the press.
December 1, 1999, 7:30 am EST
I was driving north, about 100 yeards past Dutchess County Airport on Rte. 376, when I noted a dead owl on the shoulder of the road. I slowed up and noticed that it did not appear the owl was hit by a car. I decided to drive a little further north and find a place to safely turn around. I did so about 2 miles up the road. When I made my turn, I noticed a black pick-up truck also made a turn around. I proceeded South again, passed the owl which was lying on the North bound shoulder, I made a left turn into a street and went back to 376, pulling off the road behind the owl.
As I stepped from my vehicle, I looked at the Southbound lane and the black pick-up slowed, the dark haired, moustached man approximately in his 30's, look at me, then proceeded on his way.
Since the reports of dead crows in the area, I have prepared my vehicle with surgical gloves, ice chest, and hefty trash bags. I put on the gloves and went over to examine the owl. There was NO SIGN of cuts, abrasions, puncture wounds. I pushed back feathers, looked under wings, did a darn good exam for a layperson. The bone structure seemed to be intact, no fractures. I checked the eyes and nostril area for signs of pox. The area of the face was totally clear. The owl did not seem to have signs of wasting.
I determined that there might be a chance that the owl was infected, and I decided to take it to my friend, a Vet. We could have the bird tested and find out what, if anything, is going on.
About 4 or 5 minutes after I arrived upon the scene, a Dutchess County Sheriff Dept. Officer drove up behind my vehicle. I really was not paying too much attention, I did see flashing red lights from the corner of my eye, but, it really did not register.
I was crouched down examining the bird, when a shiney black boot lightly stepped over the bird and a stern voice asked, "what are you doing?" I looked up and was surprised to see the officer. I have been up and down that stretch of roadway for years and rarely saw a police presence. I was so surprised to see him that I asked him who had called the police?
I told him that I had been investigating the West Nile Virus, i.e. in the capacity of private citizen.
I did turn over the owl for him and pull back feathers and explain why I thought the bird was suspect. He told me that he would call his supervisor and they would determine which agency would get the "prize." I asked him if I could take it to my friend, A DVM, and have it tested. Frankly, I knew that would not be an option.
He proceeded to check my license. I gave him my name, street address, and telephone number. He promised to let me know which agency would get the owl. I thoroughly intended to follow up on the test result of the owl. He informed me that "my services were no longer needed at the scene." So, I went on my way.
While driving, I remembered that the police vehicle did arrive with red lights flashing. I also remembered the pick-up truck that made the same turn around.
I also remembered the relentless warnings of my dear friend, who was a Captain in the military biowar program, now retired. He constantly tells me to watch my surroundings especially when driving. Watch for cars following.
I must admit that I was more vigilant on my journey home. I noticed a black Ford escort station wagon following. I noted the same car at the place where I stop for coffee.
I pulled over and let the vehicle pass. Now, I was the follower and he the followed. About 5 miles past, he pulled into the East Fishkill Police Barracks.
Later that day, I was told that there were 2 men on my property about 12:30 pm. My daughter surprised them. They seemed to be looking around. When they saw her, they told her that they hadn't been in the area for a while and wondered if there was still a barn on the property.
I live in a secluded area atop a mountain. There is a cow farm a couple of miles down the road. Of course, at this time of year there are a lot of hunters in the woods.
These men, wearing long dark overcoats, and black dress shoes, did not seem dressed for hunting. After encountering my daughter, they both left, in separate vehicles, a red van and a pick up truck.
It is now December 5th and I have not heard from the County Sheriff's Dept. I have made numerous calls to various agencies, including to Dr. Novello at the N.Y. State Health Dept. and DEC. I have also written to our local paper, the Poughkeepsie Journal. Silence. If the owl did not test positive for the altered virus, you would think that they would have publicized that fact.
I have added one other piece of equipment to my vehicle, a camara. The next time I come upon a suspect dead bird, I will quickly snap a photo, and then, quickly place it in the ice chest and head for my Vet's office. I will not stop pursuing this. I will let you know where the owl was taken and what the test results concluded.
Thank you,
Patty Doyle
PS: Hi Jeff... Some more attachments. These are helpful but, not necessarily pertinent. If, something does happen to me, they will be very pertinent.


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