For the last five days wildlife experts and officers from the forestry commission have picked up more than 1,000 turtle doves as well as other birds including pigeons.
Yesterday alone 300 corpses were recovered with all of them having a blue tinge to their beaks, which scientists say indicates poisoning or hypoxia which is lack of oxygen that can confuse animals.
The incident in the town of Faenza in northern Italy comes after a series of similar cases across the world in the United States and Sweden.
It is not just birds that have been affected, with millions of dead fish also washing up on river banks and coastlines.
The turtle dove case is the largest incident to have hit Europe so far – in Sweden 50 jackdaws were found dead. Italian officials said they expected results from the tests on Monday.
Most of the birds have been found around an industrial estate on the outskirts of Faenza but others have also been found closer to the centre in trees and on roads and pavements.
One local newspaper covering the incident wrote: “Let’s hope it is poisoning or an illness because that would be easier to deal with than it being a sign the world is coming to an end.”
Massimo Bolognesi, of the local World Wildlife Federation, said: “We first started getting reports on Sunday and since then they have been coming in every day.
“We have collected more than 1,000 turtle doves corpses but there is also the odd pigeon as well and all of them have this blue tint to their beak which could indicate poisoning or hypoxia.
“Tests are being carried out on the bodies by the local forestry commission and we should get the results next week but it’s the numbers that make this such a notable event and for the moment it is a mystery.”
Recall that millions of dead fish surfaced in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay in the U.S., Tuesday, while similar unexplained mass fish deaths occurred across the world in Brazil and New Zealand.
On Wednesday, 50 birds were found dead on a street in Sweden. The news come after recents reports of mysterious massive bird and fish deaths days prior in Arkansas and Louisiana.
The Baltimore Sun reports that an estimated 2 million fish were found dead in the Chesapeake Bay, mostly adult spot with some juvenile croakers in the mix, as well. Maryland Department of the Environment spokesperson Dawn Stoltzfus says “cold-water stress” is believed to be the culprit. She told The Sun that similar large winter fish deaths were documented in 1976 and 1980.
ParanaOnline reports that 100 tons of sardines, croaker and catfish have washed up in Brazilian fishing towns since last Thursday. The cause of the deaths is unknown, with an imbalance in the environment, chemical pollution, or accidental release from a fishing boat all suggested by local officials.
In New Zealand, hundreds of dead snapper fish washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches, many found with their eyes missing, The New Zealand Herald reports. A Department of Conservation official allegedly claims the fish were starving due to weather conditions.
While all three events are likely unrelated, they come after recent reports of mysterious dead birds falling from the sky in both Arkansas and Louisiana.
Thousands of dead birds were found in Beebe, Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, and a few days later, around 500 of the same species were found 300 miles south in Louisiana. A Kentucky woman also reported finding dozens of dead birds scattered around her home.
In the days prior to New Year’s, nearly 100,000 fish surfaced in an Arkansas river 100 miles west of Beebe. Officials are now saying that fireworks likely caused the Arkansas bird deaths, and power lines may be to blame for the death of the birds in Louisiana.
Some remain skeptical of the explanations. Dan Cristol, a biology professor and co-founder of the Institute for Integrative Bird Behavior Studies at the College of William & Mary, told the AP that he was hesitant to believe fireworks were to blame unless “somebody blew something into the roost, literally blowing the birds into the sky.”
Wednesday, officials in Sweden reported the finding of 50 dead birds on a street, suggesting that cold weather or fireworks were the likely culprit.
Bird deaths and fish kills at smaller numbers aren’t all that uncommon, though the size and proximity of some of the recent events have led people to allege their relation, though officials deny the frequency of these wildlife deaths as being anything other than coincidence.
In August of 2010, tens of thousands of dead fish were reported washing ashore in two separate occasions, 200 miles apart on the East Coast. [via The Telegraph (UK), Daily Mail (UK), Huff Post and HuffPost]