updated 7/29/2007 2:07:56 PM ET 2007-07-29T18:07:56

Three Metro train stations were briefly closed Sunday while hazardous materials crews investigated dozens of dead birds and a substance believed to be a commercial pest poison. No human injuries were reported.

All signs point to a contractor making a mistake, said a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The poison was spread outside at least six Metro stations.

“We want people to know they weren’t in any danger,” spokeswoman Candace Smith said.

The FBI’s joint terrorism task force and officials from the National Institutes of Health joined the investigation as reports of the dead birds increased during the day.

“They are observing it; they are gathering information,” said Alan Etter, District of Columbia fire and EMS spokesman. “There is no indication at this point that this is an attack that has been aimed at people or anything like that.”

Information on the substance was preliminary because it had been washed away by wind and rain. Some dead birds were being analyzed, Etter said.

The Greenbelt station in Maryland and the Rhode Island Avenue station in Washington reopened after brief closures, Smith said. The Takoma station was to remain closed until early evening, she said.

Twenty dead birds were found outside the Greenbelt station, 15 at the Branch Avenue station and a few at other stations.

The issue raised public safety concerns because while many of the birds died on the spot, others may have ingested the substance and flown elsewhere, Etter said.

“We don’t know how many dead birds are going to be connected to this. The message to the public is if you see a dead bird, don’t touch it, and contact the authorities,” he said.

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