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Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - 5:08pm
Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA— First Arkansas had thousands of dead birds and fish over the New Year's weekend, and now Louisiana has the same epidemic.
About 500 blackbirds and starlings have been found about 300 miles away from Beebe, Arkansas, where just days earlier the same bird species were falling dead from the sky, while at least 100,000 dead drum fish washed ashore.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Office in Lake Charles has been recovering as many of the blackbirds as possible for further testing. Biologists are also collecting samples from the birds to send for testing at the University of Georgia and the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin for genetic and pathogenic testing to determine what may have killed them.
On Monday, reports said nearly 3,000 red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, and European Starlings were dropping dead from the sky within a one-mile radius near Beebe on Friday. The birds were dead when they hit the ground. Autopsies conducted on 17 birds revealed the birds died due to multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs. Poison has been ruled out, and state biologists believe stress or weather might have played a vital role.
In a river near Ozark, thousands of dead fish were discovered, though Game and Fish officials said that incident is unrelated to the bird deaths.
A storm tore through the state of Arkansas on Friday and killed three people in Cincinnati, Arkansas. The National Weather Service said winds were registered at up to 140 mph.
125 miles away from Beebe, Arkansas, nearly 100,000 fish were found dead along the Arkansas River near Ozark.
Game and Fish officials believe the drum fish were killed by a disease, though test results are still pending.
Officials also said the disease could not have been from a pollutant since all fish, not just the drum fish, would have been affected.
The fish washed ashore along a 20-mile stretch of the river between Ozark and Clarksville.
The results could take up to a month.