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About 200 birds found dead in Arkansas city for second straight New Year's Eve

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:27 AM EST, Mon January 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A Beebe resident recalls last year as "freaky," with "dead birds lying everywhere"
  • About 200 blackbirds die this year in the city after two spurts of fireworks, an official says
  • "Someone went into the roost and set off fireworks," she adds
  • About 5,000 birds were found dead in the Arkansas city last New Year's Eve

(CNN) -- Someone went into a large roost of blackbirds in Beebe, Arkansas, as the clock struck midnight Saturday and set off fireworks, contributing to the deaths of scores of blackbirds, a state wildlife spokeswoman said.

Last New Year's Eve, roughly 5,000 birds were found dead in a square-mile area in Beebe, a central Arkansas town about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock through which birds migrate and that is home to a large roost for the birds.

Fireworks last year caused otherwise healthy birds to become disoriented and "fly all over the place" into stationary objects, such as trees and buildings, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokeswoman Ginny Porter said.

Those birds' deaths were likely "not intentional," Porter added.

But questions remain about the intention of the person or persons who set off fireworks that killed about 200 blackbirds this weekend.

In light of the fatalities one year earlier, a state wildlife officer and Beebe police officers were patrolling the area mindful of the dangers that fireworks posed to the blackbirds, the wildlife spokesman noted.

Even so, 50 birds died when fireworks went off around 7 p.m. Saturday, said Porter, who added, "We don't know where or who shot them (fireworks)."

The majority of the blackbird deaths occurred five hours later at midnight, in a bunch of trees, or roost, in a residential area.

"Someone went into the roost and set off fireworks," the spokeswoman said. " We didn't catch them, we don't know who."

Blackbirds have poor night vision and do not typically fly at night, according to the game commission.

Robbie Stroud, a resident of Beebe, told CNN affiliate KARK that the latest deaths of birds were disarming, but not as jarring as what happened 12 months ago.

"It was pretty wild," Stroud recalled of the scene last January 1. "We got out and backed out of the driveway, and it was freaky, man. There were dead birds lying everywhere."

CNN's Maggie Schneider and Kara Devlin contributed to this report.

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