Animal parts dumped in Silver Lake

  • This sandy spot, seemingly populated by noisy geese and at least one Great Blue Heron (seen in flight) at Silver Lake, was the location where Athol Health Agent Deborah Vondal pulled parts of a cut up pig carcass from of the water. Across the water is the town-designated beach area. Athol Daily News/Deborrah Porter

Editor, Daily News
Published: 6/13/2019 9:45:27 PM
Modified: 6/13/2019 9:45:16 PM

ATHOL — The police department received an unusual call reporting “animal parts spread out throughout the beach area” at Silver Lake, early Wednesday afternoon. Reached Thursday, Animal Control Officer Jennifer Arsenault, who was the first to respond, said, “It was definitely a farm animal,” and noted “there was no foul play. It looked like remnants from a pig roast.”

Arsenault who checked the perimeter of the lake, found the animal parts near the sandy area on the small island that juts out into the water, located across from the former Athol Skateboard Park.

Arsenault notified the Board of Health and Health Agent Deb Vondal and an assistant responded to the scene. Three pieces were seen floating in the water there. “It was definitely a pig,” said Vondal, “and it wasn’t long in the water. There was no decomposition.” She noted that parts were found only on the sandy area, often used by fishermen and families, directly across the large body of water from the town-designated beach area. “People don’t often designate between the ‘beach’ side and the dirt side,” she said.

Vondal said she and her assistant waded out into the water and retrieved the three pieces and bagged them for disposal.

Vondal said there was no indication who may have dumped it the animal parts into the water, “They were likely preparing for a pig roast — it was not cooked.”

Vondal said the incident should have no effect on the quality of the water.

The public beach area is opening next week, and water testing was conducted this week. “I expect the results to be fine,” said Vondal. The water at both Silver Lake and Lake Ellis are annually tested the week before the beaches open and a permit for use is issued. Testing continues through Sepember. The cost is taken out of the budget of the Recreation Department, which is a member of the Montachusett Public Health Network.

Water samples are tested weekly for E. coli bacteria in accordance to Massachusetts Freshwater Beaches regulations. Nashoba Analytical LLC in Ayer conducts the tests.

Silver Lake, which is spring-fed, and the land around it, the former skatepark, pavilion, and ball park areas are the focus of a study being conducted by the town in preparation of a master plan to address security, use and overall enhancement there.


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