Dead Birds and Fish In Arkansas Raise Eyebrows, Suspicion

by Justin Davis on January 5, 2011

Dead Birds in ArkansasSpeculation abounds regarding the death of thousands of red-winged blackbirds in the town of Beebe, Arkansas, with some blaming lightning, hail, tornadoes and even fireworks set off by New Year’s Eve revelers.

Now, concerns are growing as some hundred thousand dead fish were discovered in the Arkansas River following the initial New Year’s Eve occurrence. Although the incidents were not similarly located and do not appear to be linked, superstition has met suspicion in the small Arkansas town and beyond.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) is officially heading up the investigation, and the most recent lab reports from the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission have determined that the birds died of massive trauma found in the breast tissue, along with clotting and internal bleeding.

But, scientists in Arkansas and elsewhere can’t agree on the cause. The director of Cornell University’s ornithology lab, John Fitzpatrick, believes the birds were roosting when they were sucked up by a violent air current, killed by exposure to moisture and cold temperature then dropped from thy sky as the current dissipated.

Others, though, are not so sure. The competing theory offered by scientists is that New Year’s Eve fireworks startled the birds into the air where they became confused, causing a flock-wide tailspin. Supposing that was true and could be proven, a question arises whether liability could attach to the revelers in the form of negligence, and what department could enforce a fine or charge.

The AGFC would be the enforcement agency regarding the illegal “taking” (killing) of red-winged blackbirds in the state, unless those birds were federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Federal law takes precedence in such matters, unless the federal government defers to the state, which it often does in minor cases.

That appears not to be an issue here. In fact, under Section 14 of the AGFC Code Book, blackbirds are considered a nuisance species, and takings – which can be unintentional by definition – can be sanctioned under permit. But, the revelers would not have had such a permit, and even if they had it would not have been for the taking of 5,000 birds.

So, could the AGFC, with sufficient proof that specific individuals were responsible for the fireworks (perhaps not impossible in a town of only 5,000 people), impose a fine for the unlawful taking of the birds?

Technically, it is possible, because even unintentional takings are actionable and there was no permit issued. But, the following question is whether it would be in the interest of justice to do so. The discharge of fireworks in the state of Arkansas is widely legal, and it would not have been the intent of the revelers to kill birds. In fact, even if they were aware birds were roosting in the area, it could easily be argued that it was not foreseeable that the birds would be harmed, which is a necessary element of negligence.

In short, due to the nature of the birds (not endangered), the lack of intent and the inability to prove negligence, it would not serve the interests of the people or the community to pursue enforcement or legal action.

Photo courtesy of Manjith Kainickara

Page updated on January 5, 2011.

{ 26 comments }

mark h January 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm

didn’t think much of it, but dead black bird in back yard on dec-28th

mark h January 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

deadbird ocean city md

jennifer klein January 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I believe its a sign from up above. Gods getting ready.

ofnyc January 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

As a nation we need clear answers, don’t let fanatics confused the matter. Was it man made or a natural occurrence we need to know.

Eeek January 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I have offically closed my shades and locked the door!

shay January 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

jennifer klein.. what is god getting ready for?

charlie thigpen January 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

figure out why they died before talking about assesing people fines u jackwagons

Raven January 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

i think that this is a sign that we need to start cleaning our enviroment and that we might be next.

Jenn January 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

God is getting ready to send his Son for the church. The second coming of Christ is imminent. It’s prophecy. It’s biblical. It’s coming soon. Are you ready? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and You will be saved”

Pearl January 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Repent and get right with God before it is too late. “Behold, I come quickly.” Rev22:12

brianne defender January 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

there is no god.

Marc January 6, 2011 at 2:46 am

One Day Brianne..your knees will fall and you will confess before him that he is God

dude January 6, 2011 at 10:34 am

There is no god or gods. Saying that god did this is so stupid because god can’t even proof he is real. Sorry but if you are going to comment please be more mature.

Marvin Corrales January 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm

here you can see the efect of hollywood on religious people, 2012 and stuff. Dont be silly. But i agree that we have the right to know what is this about.

jon January 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm

What about the fish? Something happened in a small town and the theories and investigations won’t matter cause in a week no one will care….you will never get an answer….sad but true

Jaelyn January 7, 2011 at 1:35 am

To all it does concern, The word of God makes it very clear that man will destroy man. Mankind is doing a pretty good job of this all by themselves. Great minds continue to produce chemical warfare, nuclear bombs etc. these are the choices they make…God has given them a free will. He has also left his word for us to study and sent his son Jesus Christ with his message. you have nothing to lose and eveything to gain to believe in him.

Thomas January 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

500 more birds die in Sweden, somethings going on Fireworks and the like my a#$

Theory January 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Deadly chemicals dispersed into the atmosphere and driven by warm air currents from the gulf, i.e. the gulf oil spill. Other locations: a P.R. cover up.
You didn’t hear this, I wasn’t here.

shezi January 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm

God made man and created things in a systematic way so that man should learn all that and bow infront of him… instead of that, we got so busy in learning things that we forgot HIM………

dc January 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

religon has nothing to do with it.

eli gonzales January 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

ok let face it guys whatever they say its not true they don’t want to scare you, but this is written in the bible there’s gonna be plagues, a lots of things are coming are way just remember, ask for forgiveness is never too late.

chris croft January 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I came to see the lord a year ago and my life has changed a hundred times over for those of you who do not believe in our lord Jesus Christ I feel really bad for you. The time will come when you as i did ask him to come into your heart and for give you. To live with him in his Kingdom for all of eternity!!!! I hope the world will one day find the truth in the Lord and that humans will stop finding reasons to not believe in our Lord Jesus Christ!!!

Rosa January 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I do believe this IS a sign from God, our Lord and savior. If you do not believe in him, I feel very sorry for you.
If you confess with your tongue and believe in your heart that God died for our sins, you will be saved and be with him in Heaven, Paradise. I Hope one day you find out the truth before its too late. God Bless.

Kenz January 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Please keep in mind that God also states he will not come on a date that is stated. He wants to prove nobody knows the exact date but GOD IS REAL! Your the ones missing out and you are the ones that need to be checking up. He is coming SOON.

jason January 19, 2011 at 1:49 am

it was god alpha and omega he is the beginning and definitely the end he will be here its just a matter of time some of u should try reading the bible its gonna happen whether we like or not

VikingsLost January 26, 2011 at 4:52 am

Whatever! Probably something they ate or got into that they weren’t supposed to.

Now as far as a power that is bigger than any of us, I would have to agree with that. Whatever it is called, you can look to all the different nations in the world and their peoples believe in something creating all that is. Take for example, the human body. Just for a minute think about it, how all the different parts to the body function in the way they do to cause us to live. Your heart, look at what miraculous pump that is to push the blood to all parts of your body so that you can function by walking, eating, sitting, living. Could that all have been by chance as some would believe? I think not. The human body is too elaborate in its functioning capabilities to be by chance.

Something to think about.

VikingsLost

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