Only a few days into the new year, Arkansas has already experienced two newsworthy events that are potentially environmentally significant. The two separate events involved two kinds of wildlife: birds and fish.
Massive bird death in Beebe
On New Year's Eve, an estimated 5,000 birds fell from the sky in Beebe, Ark. The majority of the birds were red-winged blackbirds; some starlings were also found. Initially, the cause of the birds' deaths was unknown and puzzled many throughout the state. Some of the state's residents voiced concerns about the impact of natural gas drilling on wildlife, while some mentioned similar events that had been attributed to lightning storms.
Although testing on the birds has not been completely finished, preliminary findings by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have concluded that the birds died from shock. Loud fireworks in the area likely scared the birds causing them to fly into buildings and other obstacles. Trauma and hemorrhages were the most telling findings during the testing.
Fish kill in Arkansas River
Also on the first weekend of 2011, over 100,000 drum fish were found on the banks of the Arkansas River. The fish washed ashore on the 20+ miles of the river in the northwest portion of the state. According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, nearly 100 percent of the fish found were drum fish. This lead them to believe that disease, not pollutants, is to blame for the event.
Due to the sheer number of fish and pollution not being a likely cause, the majority of the fish will be left along the river to become part of the natural food chain. Some of the fish will be taken in for testing.