Arkansas Mysteries: Why Did Thousands Of Fish, Birds Die? : The Two-Way There's no evidence connecting the two incidents, which happened more than 100 miles apart. The birds may have been hit by lightning or shocked by fireworks. Disease is suspected in the death of the fish.

Arkansas Mysteries: Why Did Thousands Of Fish, Birds Die?

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Welcome to the program.

MARK OLIVER: Glad to be here.

INSKEEP: What did you see when you got to the banks of the river?

OLIVER: Well, there was a lot of dead white bodies. I mean, they were just rowed(ph) up along the banks. The interesting thing is the Arkansas River's got a series of locks and dams on it, and they make pools. And this was one pool where we had this die-off, and the pool above and below, we looked and we couldn't find any dead drum.

INSKEEP: Now, forgive me for sounding cynical, but when I first heard about a massive die-off, my first cynical thought was, well, somebody's fishing with dynamite again. But...

OLIVER: No. This one - we would've seen all different species if that had been the case. That does happen every now and then, but not this time.

INSKEEP: So what could've killed just one kind of fish, the freshwater drum, in such large numbers?

OLIVER: Normally it's a disease, either a bacterial infection or a viral infection.

INSKEEP: When you looked at the fish - the dead fish - was it obvious that they were diseased? Did you see something on the outside of them, for example?

OLIVER: No, sir(ph). I didn't see anything. They looked fine. There weren't any lesions or marks on them in any way. A lot of times that's the case with diseases.

INSKEEP: Mr. Goad, what happened in the Arkansas town of Beebe on New Year's Eve?

DAVID GOAD: We believe something disturbed those birds, whether it was storms or fireworks going off. They don't handle stress very well. And if they were asleep in the roost site and they got woke up suddenly with a shock, then chances are they would've been running into each other and hitting limbs and everything else.

INSKEEP: Meaning that they would actually manage to fly away. They would manage to escape some little distance but then be so panicked that they would not know what to do and...

GOAD: Just die. If they're shocked off that roost site, then they're just flying to beat 60 to try to get out of there, if you will. And they'd just get overcome with stress and they just can't handle it.

INSKEEP: Have you ever seen thousands of birds affected like this?

GOAD: No, I never have. I mean, there's die-offs. I mean, one fish or animal gets sick and it spreads quickly through that population. So it's not uncommon. I think it's pretty weird that it all happened at once.

INSKEEP: So what is your next step in each of these investigations?

OLIVER: Well, on the fish end - on the drum we've taken samples to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. They have a lab. They'll tell us if they can tell us what diseases it was, is what we're anticipating.

INSKEEP: And what is your next step in the bird investigation?

GOAD: Thanks very much.

GOAD: Thank you, sir.

INSKEEP: Thanks to you as well.

OLIVER: Thank you.

INSKEEP: They're investigating the unrelated but simultaneous die-offs of birds and fish in Arkansas.

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