State health departments across the country keep sentinel chickens in barren cages as mosquito bait to help detect pathological organisms like the West Nile virus. PETA wrote to health departments in every state asking them to discontinue the programs, which involve regularly subjecting the birds to painful blood tests. Testing dead wild birds and preventing mosquito breeding in the first place have proved far more effective in combating the disease. We received responses from at least 10 states saying that they do not have a sentinel chicken program or don’t plan to start any such programs in the future. The Washington Post reported that Maryland, according to its chief of mosquito control, recently discontinued its sentinel chicken program as a result of PETA’s pressure.