YANKTON, S.D. - When birds started falling dead in Yankton on Monday, there was understandable alarm.
There have been several recent mass die-offs of birds in various parts of the United States and even Sweden, and explanations have ranged from some sort of climate change-related cause to the birds running into each other aloft.
But there's an absolute explanation for the Yankton event: The U.S. government poisoned them.
USDA wildlife biologist Ricky Woods explained that a large group of starlings was causing problems in a north Nebraska cattle feedlot, eating the feed and leaving waste on both the feed and equipment. So the USDA put out DRC 1339 poison for the birds, Woods said.
"Lethal means are always a last resort," said Woods. "In this situation it's what we had to do."
Brasel said having the answers doesn't make the sight any less creepy. "Kind of like an Alfred Hitchcock," she said
Authorities said that so far starlings were the only birds found dead in Yankton. They said the poisoned birds didn't pose a threat to other animals or humans. Officials estimated nearly 2,000 birds ate the poison.