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So how have we fared this summer with animals?

We hear much of the tropical systems and the tornadic lashings (even in New Hampshire) and the fires. Right now, Florida under the gun.

It is a time of storms.

What about animals?

Are there really signs to be found, for example, in the vanishing of honeybees in many parts of the West as well as other insects and small birds? What about bizarre alleged animals?

Reports Joyce Morgan of Snellville Georgia: "We have less wasps, no bees, hardly any flies, butterflies, moths, and dragon flies.

"Usually we have a ton of these around the house and the yard. I have seen very few of these. We used to have the big bumble bees around also. The Lord says we should watch the signs of the times."

In other cases, there are enough birds, but what is perceived as strange behavior.

"I am a CPA and my office on the third floor of an office building contains two walls of windows (northern and western exposure)," wrote Joan Pauqtte of Vero Beach, Florida, back last spring -- which for some communities was a "silent" one.

"Around noon, I was suddenly distracted by a huge flock of birds (small birds, not crows) flying at a rapid pace towards the north-northwest. It struck me as strange as more and more birds came from the south and the east, flying over and around my office building to meet up with the leaders. 

"This continued for quite a few minutes. I estimate that there were hundreds of birds in that flock. Very unusual. I've had this office and its view for twelve years now and I've never witnessed such behavior or such quantities of birds in this small town. I couldn't help but wonder if they 'knew' something and were responding to it. Danger? Change in atmospheric conditions?"

We are not aviary experts. Perhaps it was a migratory pattern.

We have written about the predominance of birds of prey and crows. Might they be a "sign" of something askew, spiritually or ecologically?

"While not dismissing the negative experience of people with crows, the previous article on the subject left me with a bad feeling, as if we were almost sliding into superstition," notes a viewer, however -- lending us a balanced perspective.

We can say this: there has been strangeness.

An article last week pointed out that certain animals not prone to attack humans have been attacking, while another reported that the oceans (and certain of the fish in them) are on a downward spiral.

Others wonder whether there has been strange genetic research. If there is meddling with God's creatures, it is a sin.

We know that already scientists have engineered pigs with human blood or even a bioluminescent gene that produces an enzyme making those animals glow subtly in the dark.

You can look this up. The gene, named after the "lightbearer," is luciferase. See Tower of Light for many more examples.

Two weeks ago, mainstream newspapers in the New York metropolitan area were carrying photographs of a strange creature they dubbed the "Montauk Monster." It looked like a dog with a beak and washed up, allegedly, onto Montauk, which is at the tip of Long Island.

You'll excuse us for using the photo [above, left]. But it's worth a thousand words. It was all over the mainstream press. It might have been a raccoon in a state of decomposition, some speculate, or simply a dog -- or pig -- in a similar state. Some said it was a shell-less turtle (although turtles have no teeth on the lower jaw). At least one Long Island informant tells us it was not the first such instance -- that a very similar-looking but smaller creature also washed up recently.

Is it a hoax, or decayed wildlife? Someone absconded with it, preventing a DNA sample, which would settle things.

Until it is identified, residents can be forgiven for wondering if it might be related to genetic research.

The reason: just off Montauk is a mysterious government-owned island called Plum Island.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture acquired the island from the War Department at the end of World War II with a charter from Congress to study animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

Are they also meddling with DNA?

"Plum Island is a legend, but not a myth," states an article on the website of the Council for Responsible Genetics.

"Just off Orient Point, and six miles from the Connecticut coast, Plum Island is the site of a United States Agriculture Department Animal Disease Research Center.

"In surrounding communities, distrust of Plum Island runs deep. Lyme Disease takes its name from a Connecticut town across from the island: many wonder whether birds or swimming animals could have brought the disease from Plum Island. Some suspect this might be the case with West Nile Virus as well. Plum Island officials, of course, dismiss such hypotheses as fantasy."

It sounds far out -- like big foot.

And perhaps it is. But the fact is that the island was slated to be upgraded to an ultra-high hazard bio-safety level-four facility, and genetic research may in fact occur there.

Might they have fashioned a strange new creature? Are we transgressing God to that point -- at this place and point in time?

"At hearings, officials treated such concerns as childish myths and said the upgrade to BSL-4 was simply to prepare for naturally emerging zoonotic diseases," said the article. "Yet the Laboratoryís new Director, Colonel David L. Huxsoll, is the former commander of the Armyís top biological warfare laboratory at Fort Detrick, in Maryland. In the 1980s, Colonel Huxsoll was a leading figure in the Reagan Administrationís drive to apply genetic technologies to biological 'defense.' Is Plum Island a quasi-military installation? Sailors who stray too close return with that impression."

And so it goes, in the words of a famous author who lived in this area.

"I'm here on Long Island and know all about the 'Montauk monster' and, yes, it is true," said that Long Island correspondent of ours.

"The thing that you may not know, however, is that it is not the only one spotted here on the island. A woman in my office was at her desk reading about this thing that washed up and her husband called. He said, 'Doesn't that thing look exactly like what we saw on the beach in Quogue?' She and her husband have a house on the east end and one day while walking along the beach, they came across a creature almost identical to this 'monster', except it was small like a baby version. Other reports have come to the same effect."

She continues: "All of this begs the question, what are they doing on Plum Island? We know that Plum Island has always had a reputation for scientific experimentation. The government has always claimed that they were doing biological research to find a cure for things like hoof and mouth disease. Then, as time passed as the public became less naive, we realized that it was probably more like biological weaponry. That was hard enough to deal with; now this."

But really: now what?

Oh, but back to birds. 

"I have been reading with much interest about the disappearance of the birds as I am an avid backyard bird enthusiast," says a viewer from East Kingston New Hampshire. "I have been feeding my feathered friends for many years and attract many species to my feeders and every day the feeders are packed with many birds.

"Today, I fed the birds as usual, but there were hardly any birds around! The bread still remains on the ground and the feeders are still full with only a few birds showing up. A coincidence? I leave  it to your discernment. Personally I feel that the government may be experimenting with some new kind of aircraft that requires a chemical in the skies (maybe to block it from radar?). Certainly any kind of chemical up there can not be healthy for us or the wildlife below."

Silent spring? Silent summer?

Are we hearing from nature?

[resources: Tower of Light]

[See also: A monastery and butterflies and Ten mythical creatures they didn't think existed]

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