Over 100 Black Crows Drop Dead in St. Louis

Over 100 black crows have been found dead in St. Louis, Missouri, in mysterious circumstances.

Images showing bodies of the dead birds in downtown St Louis were posted on Twitter and Facebook in recent days. Many of the birds were found close to the Eagleton Courthouse.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said they were investigating the case and planned to conduct toxicology reports on some of the animals amid speculation that they may have been poisoned.

"We did collect several of the birds and were able to send them to a lab," Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation told Fox2Now. "We did a physical examination and didn't see any evidence of wounds or anything like that. So, we are sending that to a lab to have them screened for possible toxicology issues, which would be poison or things like that or toxins. And we are also screening for diseases."

A group of crows, also known as a murder, had been congregating near the courthouse and pest control services were hired in an attempt to move the animals on. Rottler Pest Solutions said it had not used any lethal methods in their work, leaving the cause of the death for the crows a mystery.

Another group of up to 50 dead crows was also reported near the Creve Coeur Lake.

Crow hunting is legal in Missouri. Hunters were permitted to shoot the birds from November 1 to March 3, 2021, in the 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

"It is a bit of an unusual occurrence and we are investigating it," Lucas Bond from the Department of Conservation told Newsweek. "We have collected samples of some the crows and are running some tests to determine the cause. There are many potential causes, so we can't speculate on exactly what has caused this until we get the tests back. Right now we are unsure when those tests will be back, hopefully sooner than later."

Concerns about the possibility of avian flu, a highly infectious airborne disease spread in bird species that can, in rare cases, be passed to humans, were raised after the dead crows were found. Cases of avian flu have recently been reported in Kentucky, Virginia and Indiana. In Indiana, one farm decided to kill 29,000 turkeys after a reported outbreak of the highly pathogenic disease.

Crows are found throughout Missouri and scavenge widely for their food, eating seeds, corn, insects and carrion among a varied diet. They often congregate in agricultural areas and in large roosts in cities, where they can conflict with humans.

The Missouri Department of Conservation said that the animals are particularly impacted by the West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne disease which typically kills crows within a week. Some researchers previously estimated that crow numbers in America have halved since 1999.

Another mass die off of birds happened in Mexico on February 7. Footage showed hundreds of birds dropping to the earth in mid-flight in Cuauhtémoc city. Their behavior was linked to the possibility of a falcon or other predator in the area which can cause bird flocks to become disorientated and plummet to the ground, injuring themselves.

Stock image of a black crow
Stock image of a black crow. The highly intelligent animals are found state wide in Missouri where it is legal to hunt them between November 1 and March 3 during the day. Ihor Martsenyuk/Getty Images