Unexplained mass animal deaths just don’t seem to get the headlines they should. Shouldn’t we be worried when large groups of animals fall from the sky or wash up on shore with no discernible cause of death? These unexplained animal deaths appear to be getting more common. Couple that with the World Wildlife Fund’s recent data demonstrating that 60% of vertebrate life has been lost in the last four decades, and it’s easy to imagine the type of future envisioned in Blade Runner and other sci-fi in which humans are the last living things on Earth. Bye bye, bacon.
The latest mysterious mass animal death to drive a nail in the animal kingdom’s coffin occurred in Hillsboro, Oregon this month where dozens of birds from four different species were found dead with “no obvious signs of death.” Wildlife agencies are currently testing the birds to try and determine a cause of death, but as in other recent mass bird suicide events and deaths, the cause will likely remain elusive.
The dead birds in Hillsboro include dozens of red-winged blackbirds and European starlings, a red-tailed hawk, and a bald eagle. It’s quite uncommon for so many birds to die at once, and the fact that several different species were involved is even more anomalous. Bob Sallinger, the Conservation Director at Audubon Society of Portland, believes the birds may have been unintentionally poisoned, but other residents aren’t so sure. One resident, who refused to speak on camera, told local news outlet KPTV that he has been finding dead birds on his property ever since a new electrical transformer was installed in a nearby field.
Could electromagnetic fields generated by telecommunications or electric grid infrastructure be affecting birds’ internal navigation mechanisms? NASA has been exploring the possibility that solar weather and fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field may be driving unexplained mass marine mammal beachings. Could something similar be causing these recent bird deaths and suicides?