CLEVELAND - I've added several more mass death reports to the initial story here. By my count, we've seen at least a dozen of these events just in the last month! Leave your comments below. I offer no opinions as to their cause. I've included some "official" explanations, but I leave it up to you to ponder why these events seem to be happening all at once... For possible explanations for the recent animal deaths, click here.
UPDATE 16: COW TIPPING in WISCONSIN. One field...one farmer... 200 dead cows! This weekend, a shocked farmer in Town of Stockton, Wisconsin discovered his entire herd of cows had just dropped dead. The farmer believes the cows died of a respiratory virus... Samples from the cows have been shipped off to a local veterinarian for testing in hopes of nailing down the official cause.
Officials day the dead cows pose no threat to humans...Got that Moulder?
UPDATE 15: WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM. The latest news from Southeast Asia this weekend: 7000 dead buffalo and cows from Vietnam. Wildlife Officials in Vietnam say 7000 total deaths have been reported from all of Vietnamese provinces over the past few weeks. 700 animals went down this past weekend alone. The reason, farmers say, is the unusually cold winter weather. According to a local news source there, the livestock are literally freezing to death.
UPDATE 14: CALIFORNIA BIRDS "WERE COMMITTING SUICIDE." Alfred Hitchcock made a memorable movie called "The Birds." The film was actually shot in Sonoma County, California in a town called Bodega Bay. Well, this past week, 100 dead birds were found scattered along the highway a few miles inland from the sleepy sea-side town. The birds were found along Highway 101 between the towns of Healdsburg and Geyservile, about an hour north of San Francisco, in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. The birds, all European Starlings, suffered blunt force trauma as a result of a close encounter with a semi-tractor trailer rig. According to a witness, the birds were flying low to the ground when they collided with the truck. The witness told Fish and Game investigators that it looked as though the birds "were committing suicide."
UPDATE 13: DON'T DRINK AND FLY! I guess birds can't hold their alcohol well! In Budapest Romania, hundreds of starlings dropped dead this week in a the Black Sea community of Constanta. What killed them? They died of alcohol poisoning! Apparently, since food is scarce this time of year, the birds found a delicious, readily available meal at the local winery. The birds gorged themselves on the fermenting grape mash...the leftover skins and stems that are discarded after the grape juice is pressed out. Wineries often pile the refuse outside and then recycle it back into the soil at a later time. Well, this time the birds got to it first. According to local veterinarians, they first got drunk, and then died of alcohol poisoning.
UPDATE 12: FROZEN FISH IN CHICAGO HARBORS. Wildlife officers in Chicago are investigating a major fish die-off along the lakefront. Thousands of 3 to 5-inch gizzard shad are entombed in harbor ice or floating dead in nearby open pools. Local fisherman are surprised at the sight but agree that the extreme cold of December and the early onset of ice in the local harbors likely doomed the yearling fish. Gizzard shad are members of the herring family. They are reportedly more sensitive to drops in oxygen levels than most other fish. Thick ice covering the local harbors cut the oxygen levels in the water before the fish could build up enough strength to last the winter.
UPDATE 11: TOO MUCH WATER FOR THE FISH. Heavy rains in Australia over the past month, have caused rivers to rise to historic levels. The flooded areas, in fact, were the size of France and Germany combined. You wouldn't think that lots of water would kill fish, but its happening "Down Under". Locals near Woolwash Lagoon, just south of Rockhampton report 5,000 to 7,000 dead fish covering 11 different species. Hundreds of fish have died on the Goulburn River between Shepparton and Echuca in Victoria. The massive flooding in these areas during December caused rotting vegetation. Microorganisms on the the rotting vegetation then stole most of the oxygen from the nearly waters.
UPDATE 10: STARFISH DON'T LIKE THE COLD. If you want to walk on the beaches near Charleston, South Carolina, watch your step. The beaches along the Isles of Palms are littered with hundreds of dead starfish and jellyfish. Since the middle of December, dead sea creatures have been washing up on shore. Marine Biologists believe that cold weather may be to blame. A frigid December in the Carolinas, has dropped the temperature of the Charleston Harbor into the upper 40s. That's just too cold for warm-water loving creatures. Keep your fingers crossed that the crabs, shrimp and sea turtles can stay warm enough to survive...
UPDATE 9: PELICANS IN PERIL. Its not safe to be a pelican in
North Carolina. During the month of December, more than 100 of these protected birds died under suspicious circumstances along the beaches of Topsail Island. Most of the birds were stabbed, shot, decapitated or de-winged. Authorities believe the deaths were deliberate and malicious. It appears the birds are killed off shore and then washed up on the beaches during high tied. The US Fish and Wildlife Agency is now involved and says the person or persons responsible for the killings could face federal charges.
UPDATE 8: AND A PARTRIDGE INA PEAR TREE. I have a hard time reading Italian, but I'll give it my best shot. According to Italy's GEA PRESS, 8-thousand turtle doves fell from the sky last week into the town Faenza, Italy. What's more, the birds had mysterious blue stains on their beaks. Early lab tests show the blue stain was either caused by poisoning or hypoxia. Hypoxia is the lack of oxygen that usually results when birds fly too high in the atmosphere. Its a common cause of confusion and sickness in winged animals. One wildlife authority surmised that the birds were caught up in a high altitude wind storm just before plummeting to their deaths...
UPDATE 7: FISH FARM FOLLY. If you enjoy eating Red Talapia fish, then, chances are, your dinner was farm raised in Vietnam. Millions of these fast-growing, low-mercury fish are raised on aquiculture farms there. During the last week of December, officials report more than 150-tons of Talapia died on 41 separate river farms. The cost? A full 35-billion Vietnamese Dollars. The cause? Low oxygen in the water, too many fish in each pen...
UPDATE 6: BAD NEWS FOR PENGUINS. In New Zealand, dead penguins had been washing up on northern beaches for several weeks now. The country's Conservation Department said penguins, petrels and other seabirds were already dying in large numbers. Autopsies show they all starved to death. The current La Nina weather pattern has reduced the fish population in the area. The fish have moved. So, now the birds can't find enough food to feed themselves and their young...
UPDATE 5: GOING BATTY! First birds, then fish...now bats. 70 bats were found dead in Tuscon, Arizona last week. A man walking his dog found the dead Mexican Free-tailed bats on a walking path under a bridge on December 28th. The bat carcasses have been sent off to the Arizona Department of health Services for testing. Officials surmise that unseasonably warm weather may have caused the bat deaths. These bats, according to wildlife experts, should have migrated to Mexico two months ago...
UPDATE 4: A SHAD SHOCK! This one is closer to home...Wildlife officers in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada report a large fish kill in the St. Clair River just across the border from Detroit this week. Hundreds of shad that washed up on shore supposedly died from temperature shock. The Ministry of Natural Resources in Sarnia says that the warm weather around New Years Day followed by a quick cold spell doomed the fish. This is not an usual occurance, say officials. But, it usually happens in spring.
UPDATE 3: CRABS CROWDING UK BEACHES. First birds and fish...now its CRABS! Reports today say that more than 40,000 Velvet Swimming Crabs have been found dead on UK beaches. And, on top of that, among the dead crabs, there's dead lobster, starfish, anemone, & sponges. The cause of this mysterious mass death? Officials believe its the extreme cold weather. According to wildlife advocates from the Thanet Coast Project, the sea creatures began washing up when snow and cold blasted Europe right around Christmas. Crabs and starfish like warm water. They usually come closer to shore in the winter to feast in the seaweed colonies. They were caught in the rapidly-arriving cold and snow over the passed few weeks.
UPDATE 2: DEAD FISH AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE. Now its New Zealand! Local newspapers near the Coromandel beaches on the North Island of New Zealand report hundreds of dead snapper fish washing ashore this week. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the fish line the shore as far as the eye can see. Officials surmise the fish starved to death due to adverse weather conditions. But, local residents contend many of the snapper looked fat and healthy. The Fisheries Ministry is currently investigating the situation.
UPDATE 1: COUNTING CROWS. Two more reports of bird deaths just in! Swedish authorities are investigating the deaths of 100 crows in the town of Falkoping, a city near Skovde. No cause can be ascertained yet.
Word out of Kentucky today that several hundred blackbirds, grackles and starlings were found dead last week near Murray, in the western portion of the state. A spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources confirmed the deaths and said that several of the dead birds have been analyzed. The tests performed on the birds ruled out diseases or poisons. That leaves the probable cause of death as weather or some other natural event. ######
BEEBE UNDER SEIGE.First, it was 5,000 birds falling from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas. That was on New Years Eve. The next day we hear reports of 100,000 fish dying and washing up along an Arkansas river. On Monday, another 500 birds were found dead near a highway just north of Baton Rouge, La.
Now, today we hear more bad news for wildlife. Thousands of dead fish washed ashore along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland in the past two weeks. In Brazil, its 100-tons of sardines and small catfish that have died.
So what gives? Are these kills related somehow? U.S. Wildlife Officials say large bird and fish kills are not uncommon things. In fact, there have been 90 mass deaths of birds and wildlife reported in the U.S. just in the last six months. Most succumb to disease or parasites. In Houston, Minnesota, a parasite infestations killed about 4,000 water birds between September and the end of November, 2010.
In Baton Rouge, officials believe the roosting flock of blackbirds were spooked by a noise and struck nearby power lines. The cause of the bird deaths in Beebe, Arkansas is still being debated. One theory says that fireworks from local New Years Eve celebrations may have spooked the birds, causing them to become disoriented. A biologist from Cornell University offers another plausible explanation. He said the sleeping birds may have been sucked up into a thunderstorm by a strong updraft of wind. The birds could then have become disoriented, injured by hail or lightning, before falling to their deaths.
As for the fish deaths, officials believe the unusually cold weather in Maryland was responsible for the Chesapeake Bay fish kill. Biologists aren't sure why about 100,000 drum fish washed up on the Arkansas River last week. In Brazil, wildlife experts are still puzzled about the fish deaths there.