“Plum Island, Restricted” reads the oversized letters emblazoned into the ground and visible from the air. Welcome to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. With all the talk of the Montauk Monster and other recent cryptozoological phenomena, one of the unintended effects of the media’s saturation has been an increased spotlight on the the government’s clandestine research facility. Located about 2.5 miles off of Orient Point and approximately 120 miles from NYC, it is referred to as Long Island’s Area 51. The lab’s official business is keeping the country’s livestock from dangerous diseases, but has been accused of simultaneously working on bio-weapon research that could wipe out an enemy’s food supply for the past few decades. But even before Plum Island was taken over by Homeland security in 2003, it has been steeped in controversy.

Some claim it’s responsible for hatching and then releasing Lyme disease and the West Nile Virus—both of which reportedly emanated from regions around the tiny island. There’s also been discussion about the laboratory’s classification, with some arguing that the biolevel3 facility is actually a biolevel4 which basically means they can experiment with extremely dangerous pathogens and viruses that could kill off mass populations of animals and humans alike. The point is that it’s a semi-toxic place and that’s why any deer that swim to the island are shot on sight and workers must strip and shower several times—although for some reason they do encourage birds to nest. There’s also this Iron Cross helipad, but we’re not sure that means, although it must have a pretty significant esoteric meaning for someone else besides symbol studying conspiracy theorists.