Mystery Of Dead Birds Solved In Yankton
People in Yankton have been wondering what's happening to the birds after hundreds were found dead.
The mystery started Monday, but now, it seems there may be some explanation.
Scattered across the snow along this stretch of Second Street are the frozen bodies of dead starlings. Their bodies are everywhere, according to witnesses like Alison Brown.
Brown says, "The street where we park and the sidewalks were just covered with them."
Animal control officers picked up hundreds of birds on Monday, and now, more have turned up, bringing the total to more than 300.
Brown says she's been wondering if these deaths are connected to other mass animal deaths, like the 5,000 blackbirds killed on New Year's Eve in Arkansas.
"You know, the first thing that comes to mind is all the reports we've seen about the birds and fish," says Brown.
But, unlike many of the other bird killings across the country, authorities in Yankton have found an answer.
Yankton Animal Control Officer Lisa Brasely says, "We initially thought the birds didn't migrate, and got cold and froze to death."
Officer Brasely says she didn't suspect illness because all the starlings were at a good weight and appeared to be, for the most part, healthy.
She planned to send some of the bodies to South Dakota State University for testing, until she got a phone call from officials with the United States Department of Agriculture that solved the mystery.
Officer Brasely says, "They said they had poisoned the birds about 10 miles south of Yankton, and they were surprised they came to Yankton like they did."
The USDA official says there were too many starlings in the area, so they tried to thin the population. Officer Brasely says having the answers doesn't make the sight any less creepy.
Officer Brasely says, "Kind of like an Alfred Hitchcock.”
Officer Brasely says it's a sight that may not go away, as more birds succumb to the poison.
Authorities say so far, starlings are the only birds found dead in Yankton. They say the poisoned birds don't pose a threat to other animals or humans.