Last year, the small town of Beebe, Arkansas became the center of a media-storm following the mysterious deaths of around 4,000 blackbirds which began falling from the sky on New Year's Eve. Although the unusual incident inspired some rather apocalyptical theories, wildlife experts eventually attributed the mass die-off to celebratory firework displays which likely frightened the birds to death. Just days ago, amid this year's New Year's celebrations, history repeated itself as 200 birds were discovered dead -- but this time, authorities say, it was no accident.
According to the Daily Mail, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is currently investigating the latest mass bird die-off as a possible criminal action. Reports indicate that spent firework casings were discovered near the roosting site of a flock of blackbirds, implying someone purposefully spooked the birds to take flight, leaving around 200 of them dead along Beebe's streets.
The terrified fowl panicked and flew into buildings, trees and each other, dropping dead to the ground, researchers believe.
This year, hoping to prevent that, police in Beebe, a town of 5,000, rushed through an emergency ban on fireworks for New Years.
We know that there was evidence of fireworks set off in the middle of the roost, and it wasn't a coincidence,' Fish and Game Commission spokeswoman Genny Porter said.
Cornell University ornithologist Dr. Kevin McGowen says that blackbirds are no more adept to seeing in the dark as humans, putting them at risk of midair collisions when startled from their roosts at night, as was considered the likely cause of death of both bird die-offs in Beebe.
Although only a fraction of birds were killed in this latest incident compared to the 4,000 with perished the previous year, for locals similarities between the ominous-seeming events was undoubtably troubling -- and made all the more disturbing by the apparent deliberateness of it. While last years incident was ruled an accident caused by fireworks, this year authorities plan on filing criminal charges against the person or persons responsible in this latest case.