Fish & Bird kills: are we getting answers or being placated?

By Douglas J.  Hagmann

7 January 2011: Readers looking for reassuring evidence that the recent massive die offs of fish and birds will find comfort in knowing that such events are historically not all that uncommon. Weather, pollution, parasites and disease are reported as the major culprits behind such events, even as reported yesterday by Glenn Beck. That appears to be the “safe, middle-of-the-road” explanation. It might even be the correct explanation. But what if it’s not?

Also, why are we treated with absurd explanations by our government when the truth, if it is indeed the truth, would be more convincing?

The official government explanation for public consumption, as reported by the corporate media, is that the massive bird kill in Arkansas was the result of loud noises created by New Year’s celebratory fireworks. Spooked and disoriented by the loud noises created by the fireworks, some 5,000 red wing blackbirds were roused from their resting positions and flew into one another and other stationary objects, causing massive blunt force trauma to their internal organs, killing them and causing them to rain from the sky like something out of a Stephen King Novel.

In the event you remain unconvinced, veteran bird curator at the Smithsonian Greg Graves has gone on record, saying that the significance of the event has been exaggerated and the massive “die off is not such a big deal.” Sure enough, as about 163 such events are reported on an annual basis, although most seem to “fly under the radar” due to location and other factors (pun intended).

About the blackbirds, Graves stated that “[t]The blackbirds are considered a nuisance, especially in the south where large winter roosts occur.” In large numbers, they can be noisy, messy and destructive, much like those of us who are in the general “unanointed” population. (Okay, I added that last portion of the sentence for effect).

As to the estimated 100,000 fish found dead within days of the bird deaths just 125 miles away in the Arkansas River, and another 500 blackbirds found dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, those incidents could be completely unrelated, noted Mr. Graves. That sentiment was echoed by government officials as well.

Before dismissing the concerns of us regular folks by citing statistics and general causes, however, shouldn’t we be getting answers that are specific to the latest series of incidents? Or at least have someone asking direct and specific questions instead of relying on anecdotal evidence?

After all, we are supposedly at war, and our enemy has made it clear their intent to use biological and chemical weapons. If that is indeed a legitimate threat, doesn’t it make sense to know the truth before shrugging the events off to natural happenstance?

Possible national security implications

After receiving several e-mails about this matter, including one from a soldier with extensive biological and chemical experience currently serving in Iraq, I thought it was time to begin conducting my own investigation. After all, Janet Napolitano is currently busy assisting American troops with reinforcement of the border (between Pakistan and Afghanistan, that is). Perhaps that is the reason that I could find no one in the media posing any direct questions to the Department of Homeland Security about biological or chemical concerns.  As I already noted, others are simply relying on anecdotal evidence to support their conclusions that “there is nothing to see here.”

The first thing I learned, which at first blush supports the historical evidence, is that strange animal deaths en masse have been reported over the years for reasons that one would not ordinarily expect. There have been reports of “flying fish” and “raining frogs,” for example, that were legitimately traced to nearby tornado activity. Not everything is a conspiracy. Odd, yes, but neither nefarious nor completely inexplicable.

The second thing I learned is much more disconcerting. Uncomfortable with merely relying on statistics,  I thought I would pose specific questions about the recent wildlife deaths to the very agency within our government that was created to protect us from threats within our homeland. What I found was troublesome and makes me believe they are not doing their job, at least not in this instance.

Shortly after 9:00 this morning, I called the Department of Homeland Security office in Washington, and the DHS Threat Fusion Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which  covers Arkansas. I introduced myself and my purpose for calling, which was to verify that the Department of Homeland Security has an open investigation into the two incidents involving the bird and fish deaths in Arkansas, given what we know about the current bio-chemical threats to the U.S.

At both locations, I was greeted by pleasant individuals who promptly sent me into telephone transfer hell, and finally to a male DHS agent at the latter location who declined to give his name to “the media.” It was that office and that person I needed to speak with, I was assured by DHS-HQ.

When asked if the Department of Homeland Security is investigating or assisting in the investigation of the two incidents, he stated that the DHS is aware of the incidents but not involved in any capacity. None.

The following is a verbatim transcript of my conversation with the DHS official after being told of the purpose of my contact and providing a proper introduction, and after the official denying any DHS involvement in the matter.

Investigative oversight? I asked. “No,” came the reply.

“Well, isn’t it possible that the deaths could be, however remote, the  result of the release of a chemical or biological agent?” I asked.

“It’s highly unlikely, very doubtful,” he replied.

“How do you know? Have you been in contact with anyone engaged in the necropsies of the birds or fish?” I asked.

“Uh, no,” he replied.

“Well. if you’re not involved in the investigation in any capacity, how do you know?” I pressed.

“We would know,” came his reply.

“Okay, my last question, sir. Would you know if the deaths could be from any action of the U.S. military, such as the Dugway sheep incident back in the late ’60′s? Or would you be informed of-

At that point, he interrupted me, saying: “This has nothing to do with the military and is not a matter under DHS review.”

Our conversation concluded at that point. Clearly, he was becoming agitated by my continuing questions. Before hanging up, I again asked him for his name for the purpose of this article, but he declined citing the same reason.

Research of significant incidents

After combing through numerous news articles and contacting several wildlife agencies, I confirmed that over the last few years, there have been several significant incidents involving the strange or large number of deaths of wildlife in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some can be attributed to the “nature” of things. Others, well, perhaps not.

On 26 July 2002, for example, Paul Sperry reported that during the 18 months previous to that article, health officials in Washington, DC found 407 dead birds infected with the West Nile virus, including two that were picked up at the White House. The method of infection of West Nile into the bird population of the U.S., and specifically into the DC birds themselves, has never been satisfactorily explained.

On 21 December 2007, several dozen birds described as “a flock of Purple Martins” fell from the sky over New York City. Many were found scattered across Staten Island, either falling from the sky or landing, then fall over and begin to twitch and flap as they died. This incident is particularly significant by the very graphic nature of actual amateur video taken of one of the birds after it fell to the ground. Aside from the fact that the birds should have been long gone from that area, the video is clearly indicative of something other than anecdotal evidence that nothing is amiss.

I was surprised by the number of recent wildlife deaths and compiled a list of significant incidents at the end of this article. I also found it interesting the similarities between previous unexplained incidents and those being reported now. For example, on 8 January 2007, Esperance, a town near Perth in Western Australia, was declared a natural disaster area after several hundred birds dropped dead out of the sky and onto people’s lawns over a wide area. At about the same time and halfway around the world, the streets in Austin, Texas were closed as officials cleaned up hundreds of dead birds that also inexplicably fell dead from the sky. To date, neither incident has been sufficiently explained. According to the Australian report, some birds were observed convulsing on the ground before they died.

Nothing out of the ordinary? Perhaps another look at the video from Staten Island might be in order.

The reports today appear similar in nature. It’s easy to dismiss the incidents as freaks of nature, or insisting, without evidence, that “there is nothing to see here” as many are.

Although the entirety of “massive kills” listed below could have innocuous explanations, I believe that we deserve to know the truth. We deserve better from our investigative agencies, making sure that they are on top of things, while making sure that they are not merely the domestic authoritative arms for global restructuring.

Based on my research, I doubt that we will be told the whole truth behind each of these deaths, unless, of course, someday, someone, releases a report like the 1994 GAO accounting of the Dugway sheep kill incident. By then, though, will it matter? I sense that if we continue to accept the inane explanations, fail to ask questions, or continue on our path of blissful ignorance, it is us who might become the next statistic.

Listing of significant incidents


Date of occurrence: 31 December 2010

Location: Beebe, AR

Type of Animal: Red wing Blackbirds

Numbers: About 5,000 (estimates widely vary)

Official explanation/comments: Fireworks frightened birds, causing disorientation

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/03/arkansas.falling.birds/index.html?hpt=T2

Notes: Necropsy findings: Necropsies performed Monday on the birds in Arkansas showed the birds “suffered internal injuries that formed blood clots leading to their deaths.”


Date of occurrence: 29 December 2010

Location: Arkansas River, Ozark Lock & Dam

Type of Animal: Freshwater Drum fish between 6-11 inches long

Numbers: 83,000-100,000

Area: about 20 miles from the Ozark Lock and Dam downstream to River Mile 240, directly south of Hartman, Arkansas

Official explanation/comments: Pending test results

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/01/03/2011-01-03_100000_drum_fish_die_in_arkansas_river_more_than_100_miles_from_site_of_bizarre_.html


Date of occurrence: 29 December 2010 – 3 January 2011

Location: Kent Island, MD (Chesapeake Bay)

Type of Animal: Small fish (Menhayden, spots and croakers.)

Numbers: Tens of thousands to 100,000 (wide variation of estimates)

Area: County wide

Official explanation/comments: Stress from cold

Link: http://www.wbaltv.com/r/26357581/detail.html


Date of occurrence: 31 December 2010-2 January 2011

Location: Spring Creek, TN (along Highway 70 north in Lebanon)

Type of Animal: Grackles

Numbers: About 120

Official explanation/comments: None provided

Link: http://www.wsmv.com/news/26379609/detail.html


Date of occurrence: 2 January 2011

Location: Paranagua, Brazil

Type of animal: Sardines

Numbers: 100 tons

Official explanation:


Date of occurrence: 1-3 January 2011

Location: Gilbertsville, KY

Type of Animal: Mostly blackbirds

Numbers: Dozens

Area: Small area confined to private property

Link: http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Woman-reports-dozens-of-dead-birds-in-her-yard-112830524.html


Date of occurrence: 2-3 January 2011

Location: LA 1, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana

Type of Animal: Red wing blackbirds and starlings

Area: Approximate quarter-mile stretch; About 50 dead birds were found near a power line 30 or 40 feet  from Louisiana Highway 1. About a quarter-mile  away, a second group of 400 or more stretched from the power line and across the highway,

Numbers: About 500

Note: In 1999, several thousand grackles fell from the sky and staggered about before dying in north Louisiana. It took five months to get the diagnosis: an E. coli infection of the air sacs in their skulls.


Date of occurrence: 3-4 January 2011

Location: Sarnia, Ontario

Type of Animal: Fish (various)

Area: St. Clair River – north end

Numbers: Hundreds


Date of occurrence: 5 January 2011

Location: Highway 155, lake O’ the Pines, near Ore City, TX

Type of Animal: Birds; American Coots or mud-hens

Area: Quarter mile

Numbers: About 250-500 (estimates vary)

Official explanation/comments:  Most likely a natural occurrence in the area and not related to the mysterious bird deaths in Arkansas and Louisiana.


Date of occurrence: 5 January 2011

Location: Faenza, Italy

Type of Animal: Turtle Doves

Numbers: 8 thousand (estimated)

Area: Undetermined

Official explanation/comments: Although testing is incomplete, signs point to hypoxia caused by suffocation. A notable bluish tint is typical of potassium cyanide poisoning.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1344913/Animal-death-mystery-Two-MILLION-dead-fish-wash-Maryland-bay.html


Date of occurrence: 5 January 2011

Location: Kent, UK

Type of Animal: Crabs

Numbers: 40 thousand (estimated)

Area: two miles of beach

Official explanation/comments:  Hypothermia


Date of occurrence: 5 January 2011

Location: Fort Pierce to North Hutchinson Island.

Type of Animal: Treasure Coast manatees

Numbers: Several dead (estimated)

Area: just north of the State Road A1A bridge

Official explanation/comments:  Hypothermia/ cold snap

Link: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/fl-treasure-coast-manatees-20110104,0,7714948.story


Date of occurrence: 8 January 2007

Location: Esperance, Australia

Type of Animal: Birds (primarily wattle birds, yellow-throated miners, New Holland honeyeaters and singing honeyeaters).

Numbers: 5,000-10,000

Area:  About 10 square miles, including bushland

Official explanation/comments: Undetermined

Link: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/mystery-as-thousands-of-birds-fall-from-sky/story-e6frg6nf-1111112807484


Date of occurrence: 6 February 2004

Location: Taizhou, in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, China

Type of Animal:  Bramblings (small bird)

Numbers: 10,000

Area:  About 2 square miles

Official explanation/comments:  Intentional poisoning

Link http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200402/28/eng20040228_136064.shtml


Date of occurrence: 5 January 2011

Location: New Zeland

Type of Animal: Fish (various) snappers with missing eyes

Area:

Numbers: Hundreds


Date of occurrence: 3-4 January 2011

Location: Cao Lanh District, Dong Thap

Type of Animal: Fish-Talapia

Area: Can Lo River

Numbers: 150 Tons