Geese Fall Dead in Idaho: Avian Cholera To Blame?

Biologists in Idaho were puzzled to discover more than 2,000 snow geese that appeared to have dropped from the sky while en route to their nesting grounds on Alaska’s northern coast, wildlife managers told Reuters.

Gregg Losinski, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the manner in which the birds died indicate avian cholera may be the cause. The disease is caused by bacteria than can survive in water for up to four months. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is the “most important infectious disease affecting wild waterfowl in North America.”

The scene is reminiscent of the 2011 aflockalypse, which began with of birds dying by the thousands across the globe. In the first week of January, 2011, CNNreported, 100,000 drum fish and thousands of blackbirds were found dead in Arkansas and Louisiana. In the same week, roughly 100 crows turned up dead in Sweden, “thousands of tons” of sardines in Rio de Janiero, 2 million fish in Maryland, and 100 eye-less snapper fish in New Zealand.

Disease was but one theory proposed to explain the mysterious deaths. Karen Rowe of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told CNN weather was usually to blame in such events, which are not at all uncommon. Rowe cited lightning, storms, and high-altitude hail as the likely culprits.

The fact that the reports surfaced in the first week of January led many to question whether New Years fireworks played a role.

Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the AGFC, told Reuters that “there were some fireworks shot off at midnight and it is possible that the birds were on their roost and stressed so bad that it could have killed them.”

But those theories fall short of explaining why some of the animals, like the 500 blackbirds discovered in Louisiana, showed signs of severe injuries. Karen Rowe resurrected the weather theory to explain the injuries, claiming high winds can thrust entire flocks of birds into cliffs and rocks.

The Examiner was one of many to reject “official” theories related to weather and fireworks, which it referred to as an “absurd” and “ridiculous” attempt to quell public fears of a looming apocalypse.

“This doesn’t explain as to why the birds have liquefied organs,” the website noted.

The Examiner proposed a less popular theory that the deaths were caused by HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Program), a government organization based, not coincidentally, in Arkansas. The Examiner blames the bird deaths on HAARP’s “high altitude spraying and ionosphere experiments,” which they were reportedly conducting at the very moment the birds dropped from the sky.

[Photo Credit: USA Today]