No cause yet in bird deaths

Poisoning, disease not suspected; witness saw car drive into flock
Dec. 31, 2012 @ 11:47 PM

SEYMOUR — The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency is still trying to determine what caused dozens of birds to die along Boyd’s Creek Highway Sunday afternoon, but at least one man who lives along the road said he saw how it happened.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Office started getting calls at about 1:15 p.m. about the bodies of birds lying in one lane of the highway. Bodies of the birds, which appeared to be starlings, lined the road and the area alongside it.

TWRA wildlife agent David Sexton said Monday he went to the scene Sunday afternoon and collected several bodies to send for examination and to try to determine the cause of death.

“There were a lot of dead birds under a power line,” he said.

Knoxville Utility Board provides power in the area, but Sexton said officials there had no evidence there had been a power surge or any other activity in that area at the time of the event.

There were no signs of physical trauma on the birds other than those that appeared to have been struck by cars after falling, he said, and he said he didn’t believe the deaths were caused by disease or poisoning because so many of them died at one time.

However, he said he wouldn’t speculate on what caused the deaths until he heard findings from the veterinarians who will examine the bodies he sent off for analysis.

Meanwhile, a man who lives along Boyd’s Creek highway says he saw the birds get struck by a car.

Harold Truitt said he was looking out at the road when he saw a large flock of birds swooping down in front of his house.

“I was sitting in my den and just happened to look at the window and saw there was birds,” he said. “It looked dark there were so many swirling around out there, and a car ran right through them.

“It was a white car and you could hear the birds hitting it.”

The car kept going, he said, but when he went outside he saw the bodies along the road and on the ground alongside it.

The rest of the flock flew away as soon as the car went through them, he said.