Mysterious Mass Animal Deaths When a group of animals die suddenly and mysteriously, it often makes news and sparks speculation. In 2011 an estimated one million small fish died in Redondo Beach, Calif. The massive die-off at a marina was blamed on algae blooms that robbed the water of oxygen. On New Year's Eve of that year an estimated 5,000 blackbirds dropped from the air over Beebe, Arkansas. The birds had been spooked and disoriented by fireworks, sending many of them plunging into trees and buildings and killing them on impact.
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In 2012 a horse and a heifer in rural Colorado were found apparently stabbed with some unknown object and seemingly mutilated. As with the German flamingos, some people immediately suspected that the grisly work was done by Satanists or a deranged animal sadist. Tests later revealed that the animals died of natural causes.
A year later, in August 2013, the remains of more than 100 dead elk were found near Las Vegas, New Mexico. Even more mysteriously, the elk showed no obvious cause of death. Officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish investigated, and ruled out several possible causes including poachers, anthrax, lightning strikes, botulism, malicious poisoning and an industrial or agricultural accident. About a month later, following testing of elk tissue samples and water samples, the real killer was found: pond scum. Or, more specifically anatoxin-A, a neurotoxin produced by a blue-green algae that develops in warm, standing water like that in livestock water tanks. The elk had all drunk from the same contaminated water source and died en masse.