BRITISH COLUMBIA

Dead Crows Mystery Unsolved

09/19/2013 08:51 EDT | Updated 11/19/2013 05:12 EST
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LOS ANGELES - JULY 10: An American crow lands on a tree in an area where dead and dying crows have become an increasingly common site near the San Gabriel River on July 10, 2004 near the Los Angeles, California area community of Pico Rivera. Health officials are predicting a severe season of West Nile Virus as the disease comes to California. The virus is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes which pick up the disease by biting infected birds. Most mosquito species do not carry the virus but many area birds have died from the disease. Animals such as horses are getting the disease but are not passing it to mosquitoes. Birds in the crow family are especially vulnerable to the virus and anecdotal reports suggest that crow populations have already diminished some areas where hundreds of dead crows have tested positive to West Nile Virus. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
After an examination of eight dead juvenile crows, a provincial wildlife veterinarian is baffled about what paralyzed and eventually killed dozens of crows.

In July, Helen Schwantje received reports of paralyzed crows in B.C’s Peace Region.

The reports, which sparked a flurry of public speculation that industry was to blame, prompted wildlife officials to conduct an examination.

"We were very curious about this, so we actually went all the way and had each bird radiographed, and some of them had cat scans as well."

Schwantje says none of the young birds had an infectious virus, such as West Nile, and she says there is no evidence industry played a role.

"I think the public needs to understand that growing birds like this, their bones are not fully mineralized and they're very fragile,” she said.

But there are a few theories, Schwantje says.

One possibility is that the birds suffered some kind of trauma which caused the fractures, but she admits she does not know what the cause was,

Another theory, which Schwantje says is the most rational and logical, is extreme wind may have blown the young birds out of their nests earlier than they normally would have left the nests.

Even though the mystery has not been solved, the provincial investigation is complete.

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