Some 20 cattle, mostly cows and their calves, have died in Co Kerry after ingesting lead.
The deaths happened after what appears to have been a large battery broken into pieces was thrown into a roadside field near Tarbert, where the herd was grazing.
Gardaí have said they were keeping an open mind on whether the battery was discarded carelessly as rubbish or dumped deliberately with the intention of targeting the cattle.
They are conducting door-to-door inquiries in the Tarbert area.
Inspector Pat O’Connell of Listowel Garda Station, who is co-ordinating the investigation, said gardaí would like to hear from the public about the incident, particularly if anyone saw the broken-up batteries being thrown into the field.
“At this early stage we are conducting a lot of local inquiries,” Insp O’Connell said.
The incident occurred between 29 July and 2 August.
Most of the cattle, who comprised almost half the herd in the field at the time, died over the bank holiday weekend, with the last deaths on Wednesday.
The loss to the farmer is estimated at just under €11,000.
Vets visited the scene and samples from the dead animals have been sent for analysis.
Initially 14 of the animals died, followed by a further six in the days since 2 August.
Gardaí believe the cattle licked the broken up battery and contracted lead poisoning, which is almost always fatal to cattle.
Lead poisoning affects the blood, liver and neurological system, causes frothing in the mouth, staggering and other symptoms.
It is a factor in the deaths of a number of cattle each year, according to vets, and curious calves are particularly susceptible.
Gardaí in Listowel are asking anyone with any information to contact them at 068-50827.
The Department of Agriculture was contacted, but have not commented on the specific incident.
While lead poisoning is not a notifiable disease, meat products from affected animals cannot be used.
Article by rte.ie