What are possible causes of mass animal deaths?



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    A lot of mass animal die-offs have made headlines in the past year or two, and the causes postulated by scientists for these die-offs vary widely, from diseases that only affect certain species, to environmental pollution in a specific area, or anthropogenic factors such as overfishing or overhunting of specific species. Here are a few articles about recent mass animal death events.

    Arkansas officials suspected disease as the cause of a mass fish die-off in the Arkansas River in January.

    Also in Arkansas, 1,000 blackbirds fell from the sky, apparently all at once. Speculative reasons included lightning strike or sheer fright because of fireworks being set off in the area. 

    In England, 40,000 crabs washed up on shore, dead of hypothermia.

    The Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico also caused enormous die-offs of marine species.

    These are just a few possibilities. Some mass animal die-offs result from a cocktail of complex ecological factors, and some result from easily pinpointed catastrophic events (such as the oil spill.)

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