Lab report in on N. Ala. wild bird deaths

One of several hundred blackbirds found dead along I-65 in Huntsville. (WAFF-TV)
One of several hundred blackbirds found dead along I-65 in Huntsville. (WAFF-TV)
Black specks in the snow are dead birds (WAFF-TV)
Black specks in the snow are dead birds (WAFF-TV)

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Test results are in from samples of dead wild birds that were found in large clusters in North Alabama several weeks ago.

New Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan said first test results from a sampling of birds showed signs of trauma, which would indicate they were either struck by a large object all at once, or flew into a large object, such as an eighteen-wheeler.

Drivers along Interstate 65 near Huntsville noticed numerous black specks during the January 12 snow storm. Investigators found more than 300 dead birds at that time. A week later another 50 to 100 dead birds were found in Scottsboro.

McMillan said testing of a second set of samples will likely not be complete until the end of this week.

Commissioner McMillan advises the public to report any large scale wild bird die-offs in their area to the appropriate agencies.

Sightings of large numbers of dead birds and other animals have raised concerns across the country for more than a month. The first major report was on several thousand birds that suddenly died in Beebe, Arkansas on New Years Eve. Since that time reports have popped up in numerous states.

Cause for alarm?

McMillan said Alabama's bird die-offs are not considered a human health threat at this time, but the public should take normal precautions when encountering any dead wild animal or bird.

The public is urged to avoid or limit any contact with any dead wild animal.  If you must handle or move one, wear gloves, but calling a wildlife agency is preferred.

To report any large scale (about 50 or more) wild bird die-offs in your area and to arrange transportation of the dead birds to a diagnostic laboratory for testing, please contact any of the following agencies:

  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife Section
  • USDA Alabama Wildlife Services
    334-844-5670 or Toll-Free 1-866-4USDAWS
  • Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries State Veterinarian's Office

300 black birds found dead along I-65

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