Officials Investigate Deaths Of Animals In Johnston County
Investigators Work To Determine Cause
POSTED: 5:54 pm EST April 2, 2004
UPDATED: 7:17 pm EST April 2, 2004
JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Federal and local investigators have a
mystery on their hands. More than a dozen animals in Johnston County
have died, and experts said it was not from natural causes.
Federal agents are on the case.
This week, Doug Holloman walked onto his family’s field for the first
time since November. That is where he discovered something gruesome.
He found three dead deer, three dogs and two foxes.
Holloman has a degree in environmental science, and he has farmed for
years. He said he has never seen anything like this before.
"I knew it was a strange occurrence," Holloman said. "It was not
normal to see this many dead animals in this close proximity to one
So, he called the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators
there told him they were looking into a similar case just up the road.
The day before Holloman called, someone reported five dead animals to
the United States Department of Agriculture. That federal agency is
leading the investigation in both cases.
The USDA collected samples from the animals and the area where they
were found. They sent those off to the FBI lab. Now, they are waiting
on test results to determine exactly what killed the animals.
"I hope they find out pretty quickly," farmer Sandy Batten said.
Batten’s family owns the farm across the street. He is worried about
their cattle and sheep.
"We’d like to know what caused that," Batten said, "because we sure
don’t want any of our animals to die."
Holloman is concerned that if investigators do not find what or
whoever is responsible for the animal deaths quickly, it could mean
big trouble for the local environment.
Investigators will not speculate on what might have killed the
animals. They expect to have test results early next week.
Reporter/Photographer: Mike Charbonneau
OnLine Producer: Paul Ensslin