Mass Die Off of Birds and Fish in Arkansas

Something strange is going on in Arkansas.  On New Years Eve close to 5,000 dead birds dropped out of the skies over a square mile in a town called Beebe.  Only a day earlier, an estimated 100,000 fish died in the nearby Arkansas River, their corpses covering 20 miles of the river’s surface.

It sounds like a plague out of the Bible or a scene from a horror move, but as macabre as these massive wildlife die-offs are, the scariest part is that no one knows what caused them.  Given that they happened so close in time and proximity to one another, common sense would suggest that these events must be connected and are probably the result of human activity (let’s face it, we don’t always have the best track record).

Wildlife officials in Arkansas are testing the birds, which were mostly red-winged blackbirds and European starlings, to see if cause of death can be determined.  So far no evidence of poisoning has  been reported, and theories of what caused the bird deaths include a lighting strike, hail and even fireworks set off in the area by New Years Eve revelers.  The dead fish were all the same species, drum fish, indicating that they met their fate as a result of disease rather than poisoning or other causes that would have killed multiple fish species.

Here is a news report from CNN with footage of these strange wildlife die-offs.


Photo of red-winged blackbird by kevincole via Flickr Creative Commons.