Man charged in connection with 70,000 chicken deaths in Md.


Without cooling fans, water and food, chickens can die within 15 minutes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Some 70,000 chickens were dead.

“This is a first for me in my almost 20-year career,” Lt. Tim Robinson of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office told DelmarvaNow.com.

Police say the chickens died after a drunk man on the property for a gathering allegedly went into a shed, possibly looking for a light switch. Instead, he apparently turned off power to the chickenhouses, an act that most likely killed $20,000 worth of chickens within 15 minutes.

Joshua D. Shelton, 21, has been charged with several crimes, including burglary, malicious destruction of property and animal cruelty. He was found, according to DelmarvaNow.com, near the circuit board wearing just boxers and a T-shirt.

“He smelled of alcohol and did not know how he got into the shed or remember touching the breakers,” the report said, citing Wicomico charging documents.

The deaths have, not surprisingly, stunned the close-knit chicken-raising community on the Eastern Shore.

“I have never heard of a drunkard going in and killing chickens,” Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., told DelmarvaNow.com. “This is a new one on me, and it’s unfortunate that it occurred.”

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.

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