A winged "spy" has been found dead in Egypt, and a local conservation group is crying foul.
Egyptian police detained a stork in August when a resident in Egypt's Qena province, 280 miles southeast of Cairo, became suspicious after noticing a European wildlife tracker on the bird, The Associated Press reported. Authorities suspected the bird may have been linked to foreign espionage.
The authorities eventually set the stork free, but the bird didn't get far.
The head of Egypt's southern protected areas said today that local residents found the stork dead on an island in the Nile River, south of the ancient city of Aswan, according to the AP.
A local conservation group said Saturday the stork, which it had named "Menes," had been killed.
The bird was "was captured and killed, to be eaten by local villagers," Nature Conservation Egypt said on its Facebook page.
"Storks have been part of the Nubian diet for thousands of years, so the actual act of eating storks is not in itself a unique practice," the group said, referring to the local people. The "short-lived success story of getting Menes released," was not enough to keep the bird safe before it left Egypt, the group added.
The head of the protected areas, Mahmoud Hassib, denied the bird had been eaten, although he did not know the bird's cause of death, according to the AP.
The stork is one of several animals Egyptian authorities have suspected of sinister plotting in recent years.
In January, Egyptian police north of Cairo sent a pigeon with microfilm and paper tied to its feet to a criminal investigation unit, concerned about a message on the paper that read, "Islam Egypt," according to Ahram Online, an English-language Egyptian news organization.
And in 2010, the governor of a province on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula reportedly said that a spate of shark attacks was an Israeli plot to stunt Egyptian tourism. Israel denied the charge.