2010–11 midwinter animal mass death events
The 2010–2011 midwinter animal mass death events (sometimes referred to as Aflockalypse) have gained considerable publicity worldwide. Media attention was particularly high for this period. This is despite the fact that the mass deaths of fish and of birds are quite common. Livestock have also been known to suffer such incidents.
In the final week of December, 83,000 dead and dying drum fish washed up along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, about 100 miles west of Beebe, Arkansas. The cause was speculated to be disease while full test results were expected after one month.
Shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve between 3,000 and 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe. Most were dead on the ground but some were living but dazed. Laboratory tests have been performed and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the University of Georgia's wildlife disease study group have procured specimens of the dead birds. In addition to the blackbirds a few grackles and starlings also fell from the sky in the same incident. A test report from the state poultry lab concluded that the birds had died from blunt trauma. An unlicensed fireworks discharge was the likely cause.
On January 3, more than five hundred starlings, red-winged blackbirds and sparrows fell dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, USA. Also on the same day, an estimated two million dead fish were found floating in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA.
On January 5, "hundreds" of dead turtle doves were found at Faenza, Italy. According to Italian news agencies, a huge number of the birds were found to have blue stains on their beaks that could be caused by paint or hypoxia.
Over the weekend of January 8–9, "over a hundred" dead birds were found clustered together on a California Highway, while "thousands of dead gizzard shad" (a species of fish) turned up in the harbors of Chicago.
On January 14, approximately two hundred cows were found dead in a field in Stockton, Wisconsin. The owner of the cattle has told deputies that he suspected the animals died of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD). The authorities in Wisconsin sent samples from the carcasses to labs in Madison, to determine cause of death.
On March 7, millions of small fish, including anchovies, sardines, and mackerel were found dead in the area of King Harbor at Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A. An investigation by the authorities within the area concluded that the sardines had become trapped within the harbor, depleted the ambient oxygen, which resulted in the deaths. The authorities stated that the event was "unusual, but not unexplainable."
According to most scientists, massive die offs of animals are not unusual in nature and happen for a variety of reasons including bad weather, disease outbreaks and poisonings, with pollution and climate change adding to the stresses on wildlife. The U.S. Geological Service's website listed about 90 mass deaths of birds and other wildlife from June through December 12. For instance, Louisiana's State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour has stated that there have been 16 similar mass blackbird deaths in the past 30 years. According to Italy's WWF president Giorgio Tramonti, mass dove deaths like the ones that occurred in Italy have never happened before 2010. The event in Arkansas was attributed primarily to an unexpected temperature change causing turbulence, visible on NEXRAD Doppler weather radar images, above their roosting areas which disoriented them. In addition other news sources have reported more masses of dead animals in the year 2012.
Some Christians assert that this particular cluster of animal mass deaths is a sign of the Apocalypse. They reference a passage in the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible which reads: "By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood," and the prophecy continues "Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away."
- Walsh, Brian (January 5, 2011). "Why the Aflockalypse Is Business As Usual For Biodiversity—And Why That's Not Good". Time. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- Taylor, Lesley Ciarula (January 7, 2011). "'Aflockalypse' now: Hundreds of turtle doves die in Italy". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Nuss, Jeannie (January 4, 2011). "Wildlife Experts Probe Mass Death of Blackbirds in Arkansas". CNS. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Weise, Elizabeth (January 5, 2011). "Fireworks likely cause of massive Ark. bird kill". USA Today. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- "911 Tapes Released from Beebe Bird Scare". KATV. January 7, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- "Dead blackbirds fall again in Arkansas town". Boston Globe. AP. December 31, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Keneally, Meghan (January 1, 2012). "First sign of an apocalyptic year to come? Thousands of blackbirds fall to their death in Arkansas town for second New Year's Eve in a row". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Coleto, Leonardo (January 4, 2011). "Mortandade misteriosa de peixes no litoral" (in Portuguese). Parana Online. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- Addo, Koran (January 4, 2011). "Mass La. bird deaths puzzle investigators". 2theadvocate. Archived from the original on January 15, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- "Two Million Dead Fish Appear in Chesapeake Bay". CBS. January 5, 2011.
- "Birds Dying In Italy: Thousands Of Turtle Doves Fall Dead From Sky". The Huffington Post. January 6, 2011. Archived from the original on January 9, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- "Dead Birds Fall From Sky In Italy: Mass Animal Death Mystery Solved?". The Huffington Post. January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- Donovan, Travis Walter (January 11, 2011). "Birds Fall From Sky In California, Thousands Of Dead Fish Found In Chicago". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- "Thousands of Dead Fish Along Lakefront". NBC Chicago. January 12, 2011. Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- Adams, William Lee (January 18, 2011). "Does the Death of 200 Cows in Wisconsin Confirm Biblical Prophecy?". Time. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Millions of dead fish at King Harbor in Redondo Beach, CA
- Sohn, Emily (January 6, 2011). "Birds Falling From the Sky Not Unusual". Discovery News. Archived from the original on January 26, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Doyle, Alister (January 6, 2011). "SCIENCE NEWS Mass bird deaths rare, not apocalyptic: experts". NewsDaily.Com. Reuters. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- McConnaughey, Janet (January 4, 2011). "La. has mass bird kill just days after Ark.". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- "Fact Sheet: The Arkansas blackbirds and 8 other mysterious mass animal deaths". The Week. January 5, 2011. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2011.
- Jackson, Rachel (June 3, 2011). "Mark Johnson helps solve bird death mystery". The News-Herald. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- Bell, Melissa (January 5, 2011). "Dead birds, dead fish, dead crabs turn up all over the world: Signs of the Aflockalypse?". Washington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.