September 06, 2013
By Sarah Kellner
After a herd of more than 100 elk were found dead last week in northeast New Mexico, officials searched for an explanation. The elk had not been shot, according to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, so poachers were not to blame.
Experts believe that epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, is the cause. EHD is not transmitted animal to animal, but rather it comes from insect bites and is often fatal causing animals to develop a fever and eventually go into shock and die.
This is not the only report of mass animal deaths in recent years. We've rounded up some of the weirdest and most mysterious reports from the last decade.
Turkish Sheep Cliff Jump
In 2005, shepherds watched as one sheep jumped off the cliff only to be followed by the rest of the flock. More than 400 sheep died
from the jump and their bodies cushioned the 1,100 that followed. The sheep were very important for the economic success of the local community and many families struggled as a result of the deaths.
Image via Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Dog Suicide Bridge
The Overtoun Bridge in Scotland has become an infamous location for dog suicides
. More than 50 dogs in the last 50 years have jumped to their deaths from the bridge and no one knows why. Locals believe the bridge is haunted. Others believe the Celtic mythology that Overtoun is "the thin place," the area where heaven meets earth. Perhaps the dogs can sense this? This heartbreaking mystery is still unsolved.
Image via Lairich Rig
Herd of Elk Die in New Mexico
A herd of elk died
seemingly overnight in Mora, N.M. in late August 2013. Experts believe a disease spread through insect bites is to blame. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, causes animals to run a fever and eventually go into shock and die.
Ogeechee River Fish Kill
In May 2011, more than 38,000 bloated and blistered bluegill and redbreast fish were found dead
in an 80 mile stretch of the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Ga. Activists
believe that unauthorized dumping of flame retardant chemicals by King America Finishing into the river is to blame.
A class action lawsuit
was filed against King America for people who suffered adverse health impacts from the chemicals.
Dead Jumbo Squid in California
In 2005, thousands of Humboldt squid
beached themselves on the shores of Monterey Bay. Scientists believe that the predatory squid (also known as "red devils" for their coloring and razor-sharp beak) may have ingested toxic algae. The toxins caused the squid to swim into shallow waters and then become beached. They did not wash up on the shore dead. There are many theories, but the enigma has never been fully explained.
400 Pilot Whales Die in Tasmanian Waters
In 2009, 400 pilot whales and bottlenose dolphin died
in the Bass Strait and were beached on King's Island. Periodic strandings have occurred in these waters over the years and some believe that a disturbance in echo-location caused by human sounds created at sea is to blame. One thing is for certain: there's something in the water.
In 2005, a thousand toad corpses
where found in a pond in Hamburg, Germany after bloating and exploding. The water tested normal and no viruses or bacteria were found in their bodies. One theory is that hungry crows were pecking out their livers, but this has not been proven.
Image via Catfisheye
Moose Population in Minnesota Plummets
The moose population has been dwindling since the 1980s, but in the past year, the moose population in Minnesota dropped an alarming 35%
leaving only about 2,700. Scientists suspect everything from ticks to brain-tunneling parasites to stress caused by high temperatures. Moose are difficult to study because they live and die deep in the forest. A University of Minnesota veterinary graduate student asked hunters to collect biological samples from any moose they killed to assist with the study.
Texas Sport Fish Kill at West Pond
This June, thousands upon thousands of dead bass, perch and catfish
were found at West Pond just outside of Dallas. The pond has no inlet or outlet, and construction in the area in addition to a drought caused low water levels. A lack of oxygen in the water is what experts believe killed the fish.
6,000 Deer Die in Nebraska
In the fall of 2012, Nebraska Wildlife officials reported approximately 6,000 dead deer
and the cause was determined to be epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD. EHD a viral disease that is usually transmitted through insect bites and presents with loss of appetite, weakness, rapid pulse, fever, unconsciousness and finally, death. This happens within an 8-36 hour span. Hunters usually come across deer carcasses after an epidemic of EHD.
Photo by Ron Sinfelt
What's the weirdest case of mass animal deaths you've ever heard of? Share with us in the comments below.