It isn’t 2012, but a rash of animal deaths is making this year look like the End of Days.
Following on the heels of thousands of red-winged blackbirds dying in a small Arkansas town, several hundred more mysteriously died farther south in Louisiana.
Officials are trying to determine what killed an estimated 500 of the small birds, who littered Louisiana Highway 1 near Pointe Coupee Parish when they fell out of the sky, according to Baton Rouge’s The Advocate.
Among this new batch of dead birds were several starlings, the newspaper reported.
“We have sent bird carcasses to two individual labs to obtain toxicology reports,” Bo Boehringer, spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told the Daily News.
He said it was not clear what had caused the birds to die off, despite random theories including fireworks or hail, as well as the wrath of God and government conspiracies. Boehringer downplayed any connection between the red-winged blackbird deaths in Louisiana to the ones in Arkansas, several hundred miles away.
“It’s too early to connect the two scenarios,” he said, noting that it could be a week or more before the results come back.
Meanwhile, as officials in Arkansas continue to investigate what may have killed nearly 100,000 fresh water drum in the Arkansas River, wildlife experts in Maryland are looking into their own massive fish kill in the Chesapeake Bay.
“We are seeing small/juvenile menhaden, croaker, spot fish dead, in very large fish kills,” said Dawn Stoltzfus, director of communications for Maryland’s Department of the Environment. “The numbers are estimated in the hundreds of the thousands at this point.”
Officials began receiving reports of the dead fish last week. The species there generally leave for warmer waters during this time of year, but it was not clear why that did not happen, she said.
“The drop in water temperatures has been quite quick in December, and cold stress is the likely cause [of the deaths],” Stoltzfus said.
The last time the Chesapeake saw such a massive fish kill was in 1976, records show, when about 15 million spot died due to the cold.
Mysterious animal deaths so far this year have not been limited to the United States.
Nearly 100 tons of dead fish, consisting mostly of sardines, hit the beaches of Paranagua, Brazil, on Sunday.
According to Paraná Online, a team from the Environmental Institute of Paran?/a>? is conducting tests to determine what killed them. As a precaution, the sale of seafood in Paranagua has been suspended.
The website also reports dead fish have begun to appear along the coasts of Antonina, Guaraquecaba and Pontal do Pontal do Paraná.
“We desperately need a solution to this,” said Edmir Manoel Ferreira, president of the Federation of Fishermen of Paraná.