KENNETH CITY — Duck lovers can breathe a bit easier — a Muscovy poisoner is not on the loose.
Rather than foul play, Mother Nature is the likely culprit that has caused the deaths of nearly 100 Muscovy ducks in this town.
At least, that's the conclusion of the state Department of Agriculture after tests on the bodies of an adult and a baby duck came back negative for poison.
"The final diagnosis is duck viral enteritis (DVE) and salmonellosis," according to the May 8 report from the agriculture department's Bureau of Diagnostic Laboratories in the Division of Animal Industry.
DVE, also known as duck plague, is a highly contagious disease that affects ducks, swans and geese of all ages. Its symptoms include extreme thirst, droopiness, nasal discharge and bloody diarrhea.
Salmonellosis is caused by the salmonella bacteria and is often the cause of food poisoning in humans.
The dead Muscovy ducks likely first contracted DVE, then the salmonella, which made the situation worse, according to the report.
Muscovy ducks have been an issue in Kenneth City for more than a year as duck lovers and duck detractors squared off over the feeding of the birds. After months of debate, the Town Council last year passed a rule that residents could feed Muscovy ducks on their own property unless they became a nuisance to other human residents.
All was peaceful for a time until this spring when dead ducks began appearing. Some duck lovers thought the birds were being poisoned because some of the symptoms of DVE are similar to that of poisoning. Duck lover Maureen Lyons sent the dead adult duck and the baby to the state for testing.
Lyons did not return an e-mail Monday asking for comment.