For a couple of days now I’ve been glued to the horrifying stories of thousands of birds raining down from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas and the massive fish kill in the Arkansas River. And while these two mysterious events occurred within 24 hours of each other and were located a mere 125 miles apart, government agencies and mainstream media continue to insist that there is no link between them. But the missing link to this mystery might lie right beneath our noses…
So what do we know about these two incidents so far?
We know that roughly 4,000 birds, mostly red-winged blackbirds, starlings and grackles, fell from the sky around midnight on December 31st in Beebe, Arkansas. The birds fell randomly in a one to one and a half mile area. Most of the birds appeared dead when they hit the ground.
The state veterinarian for the State of Arkansas reported that of the handful of dead birds they have studied, all had internal injuries. These injuries have also been classified as blunt force trauma expressed by blood clots and contusions to the breast as if they all hit something. No sign of chronic or infectious disease has been found in the sample birds.
Public theories range from biblical Armageddon, to secret government weapons testing to alien spacecraft. Those theories aren’t much weirder than the official speculations, including:
1. Fireworks: loud noises startled the birds into the air where they either died of instantaneous shock or crashed into each other so hard they died. This might be plausible if a dozen M-80’s were set off in a tree where the birds were roosting, but even one of these explosives would make an unforgettable noise in a residential area.
2. High altitude hail: for some unknown reason 4,000 birds were flying at high altitude, at night, and were struck in the breast from below by a freak hail storm.
3. Lightning: in this scenario a single bolt of lightning struck 4,000 birds flying around at night in a one mile wide area and they all fell dead to the ground incurring trauma to the breast.
One kudos to the hail/lightning theory is that there was, indeed bad weather in the area earlier in the evening, but the weather service reports that by midnight the system had moved well to the east of Beebe, leaving their weather theories a little soggy.
Let’s turn to the 100,000 fish found dead along a 20 mile stretch the Arkansas River near the town of Ozark. As in the Beebe kill, his one involved primarily one species of drum fish. Ozark is less than 125 miles west of Beebe. Some environmental tests were done to rule out water-born toxins and toxicology reports wont be complete until next month.
The official line on this event is that the fish had contracted a disease. Are we to believe that a devastating disease such as this struck 100,000 fish all at once in a relatively small area of a very, very large river?
As it stands, authorities deny any connection between two massive species kills located less than 125 miles and one day apart. Either they are incredibly dull and unimaginative, or they’re lying.
When I first heard the report about these bizarre species kills, the first words that came to my mind were fracking earthquakes.
You may recall a recent story about a group of people in Arkansas who had turned on their taps one day to find that their private wells had been inundated with methane gas. As we watched the evening news, one homeowner literally lit the water coming out of his bathroom faucet on fire.
The claims were that natural gas had migrated through fractures in the limestone bedrock, which makes up the karst topography of the Ozark region. (Learn more about this natural geologic feature here). Normally, naturally gas is trapped within the rocks and released in small amounts naturally over thousands of years.
But according to reports, the recent methane intrusions had been triggered by a controversial method of natural gas drilling called fracking. Fracking involves drilling deep holes into the underlying rock into which heavy explosives are dropped. The explosion fractures the rock, releasing natural gas which is then collected and processed. And it seems as though drilling for natural gas has put an entire region on shaky ground.
Pan to the town of Guy, Arkansas, where over 500 natural gas drilling operate within a 500 mile radius. And not only are they fract-drilling for natural gas, they are also pumping toxic wastes from drilling operations into the earth using high-pressure techniques. The results of all this violent tampering with an already geologically unstable region has been an earthquake swarm consisting of over 500 tremors and counting just since September ‘10.
Google Maps 2010 – View large Arkansas Bird and Fish Kill map.
This map shows Guy, AR located by the red push-pin, with Beebe and Ozark to the east and west, less than 125 miles apart. With natural gas wells being drilled within a 500 mile radius around Guy, it’s obvious how fracking and drilling-waste disposal could impact both locations.
Imagine a fresh-water spring in the Ozarks gushing out of a cavernous system in the earth. Now imagine that the water is natural gas and you understand the plausibility of the missing link in the recent species kills.
I will offer my theory that this is what’s happened in central Arkansas. Methane and other gases associated with it are seeping out of the earth into the air and the water. And in Beebe and Ozark, the gas rushed out in a large emission, killed the fish and the birds in a very localized area, and was quickly diluted by the surrounding fresh air and water.
It’s worth considering my theory because these events, while not exactly in the Ozarks, are close enough to sir up trouble right here at home. And don’t doubt for a moment that Exxon Mobil or any number of natural gas companies aren’t searching for gas right here in our neck of the woods.
Jill Henderson is an artist, author and the editor of Show Me Oz.
Her books, A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country and The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs are available in our bookstore.