No sign dead birds were poisoned

Jan. 3, 2011 at 4:16 PM

BEEBE, Ark., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials say the 2,000-3,000 birds that fell dead from the sky in Beebe, Ark., New Year's Eve exhibited no sign of poisoning.

Beebe Police Department said it began receiving complaints Friday about dead birds falling from the sky, landing on roofs and littering yards for about a mile between U.S. 367 and the Arkansas State University campus, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday.

Mayor Mike Robertson said what did kill the birds hadn't been determined and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will start sending the bird carcasses to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission for testing.

AGFC wildlife officer Robby King said he collected about 65 birds that were sent for testing.

"Shortly after I arrived there were still birds falling from the sky," King said.

Before testing began, the commission's ornithologist, Karen Rowe, said similar occurrences have occurred a number of times across the globe.

"Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail," Rowe said.

Or, Rowe said, New Year's Eve revelers setting off fireworks may have startled the birds, which may have died from stress.

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