Carcasses of at least 20 peacocks were found lying in Madhupur village forest in Khurda district on Tuesday morning, which raised suspicion of possible bird flu deaths.
''Bodies of 20 peacocks and other birds were found lying scattered in small patch of forest near Madhupur. Veterinarians from Odisha University of Agriculture Technology collected all bodies for their tests,'' said Akshaya Patnaik, divisional forest officer for Khurda Forest Division, The Hindu reported.
Although this could not be confirmed, bodies were buried as per procedures followed in bird flu outbreaks. A number of samples were sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal to ascertain if avian influenza was the cause of the deaths.
''Since paddy crop cutting has already been completed in the surrounding areas, there was little chance of deliberate poisoning of birds. We are keeping a close watch in the forest,'' Patnaik said.
''We have also asked villagers to stay alert and inform forest officials immediately if they come across any further deaths in their surroundings,'' Patnaik said.
According to Khurda forest range officer Dilip Rout, they had recovered the carcasses from the forest and sent them to Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) for examination.
"We apprehend more carcasses may be lying in faraway places. The forest is spread over two kilometer area," Rout said adding more personnel were deployed in the area, PTI reported.
Rout said the reason could be ascertained only after the postmortem report.
Villagers, however, suspect that the incident could be the handiwork of poachers who might have laced paddy with poison leading to the death of the birds.