Emu

Emus are farmed for their oil and meat. (CBC)

An engineer from Dalhousie University is throwing cold water on claims by a pair of Digby farmers that nearby wind turbines killed their flock of emus.

Kenny Corscadden, the farm energy conservation research chair at the university, says most scientific literature shows wind farms pose no harm to animals.

"It's a very controversial subject," he said. "There's been lots of issues and stories about the potential impact (on) health, and wind turbines.

"But there's no peer reviewed literature and or regulatory bodies that have independent studies done to have a direct link between health and wind turbines."

Davey and Debi Van Tassel

Debi and Davey Van Tassel said with their emus dying off, they're not sure what the future holds. (CBC)

Debi Van Tassel, of Ocean Breeze Emu Farm in Digby, said she and her husband Davey are spending this week selling and harvesting the last of their emus, often farmed for their oil and meat.

"When we watched the birds in here die, when we started with 27 and ended up with seven, when we had to watch them die every day, I said to Davey, 'We can't do it anymore,'" said Van Tassel.

"We know we are doing the best because we know they're going to go somewhere they're not going to be abused by turbines."

Nova Scotia Power, the province's electric utility, built a wind turbine farm behind the couple's home almost three years ago. The 20 turbines can power more than 10,000 homes, but Van Tassel said the turbines are noisy and have distressed her birds.

The Van Tassels said since then, their emus have gotten thinner and haven't been yielding as many eggs. They said the eggs that do arrive, don't survive — in 2010, 30 of their 38 emus died.

They did not have necropsies performed on any of the animals.

Nova Scotia Power said they only heard about the emus' deaths on the weekend. Officials promised to speak with the family on Monday.