(Reuters) - Someone intentionally set off fireworks under a blackbird roost in Beebe, Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, killing about 200 birds on the first anniversary of the similar death of 5,000 of the birds, authorities said on Monday.
“Fireworks were found at the roost so we know it was intentional,” said Ginny Porter, spokeswoman the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
She said about 200 birds died of blunt force trauma after they were spooked by the explosion and slammed into trees, houses, cars or one another.
“Blackbirds don’t see well at night and loud noises startle them,” Porter said.
It was doubtful the killer would be punished since Beebe city regulations allow citizens to set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve and July 4, said Lieutenant Brian Duke of the city police force.
“There is really no criminal violation that has occurred,” Duke said.
Porter said police and a wildlife officer had been patrolling the residential neighborhood where thousands of blackbirds are known to roost in the winter months. They were on alert after last New Year’s Eve’s discovery of 5,000 dead birds, which authorities have since concluded was tied to fireworks.
Police were called to another incident and suddenly, at about midnight, a large firework exploded beneath the roost and the birds were soon discovered dead, Porter said.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Greg McCune