Wildlife experts are working to solve a mystery after over 40 vultures were found dead surrounding a water tower in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.
40-50 vultures were piled in a 100-yard radius around a water tower in North Carolina. American Wildlife Refuge worker Paul MacKinnon said that he believes the birds appear to have been poisoned.
Other wildlife experts however believe that it could be the Avian flu, as a wildlife sanctuary reported that the bird flu was spreading across the eastern part of North Carolina.
Many believe that this mystery could not have been from the highly contagious flu, however. If the birds had died from the Avian flu, it is unlikely only vultures would have been impacted.
The director of animal care at the American Wildlife Refuge, Steve Stone, uploaded a video to Facebook of the tragic scene. He said that they found about 50 vultures dead.
He will send two of the dead vultures to a lab in Raleigh for testing to help determine whether it was poison or bird flu that killed the vultures.
Vultures are extremely vital to the planet, and it is illegal to shoot or poison buzzards or turkey vultures. A recent study even found that vultures can prevent tens of millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and methane emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.
There are 22 species of vultures around the world, and they are often the first to discover and feed on the dead bodies of animals. While this often makes humans uneasy and gives the vultures a bad rep, the cleanup keeps the nutrients cycling and controls pathogens that could otherwise spread from dead animals to living ones.
Researchers found that a vulture eats between 0.2 and one kilogram (kg) of carcass per day, depending on the species. If these carcasses are left uneaten, each kg of the decomposing body releases around 0.86 kg of CO2 equivalent.
The 140 million vultures around the world can help stop tens of millions of metron tons of emissions per year. Although many humans may compost carcasses or bury them, researchers say that this can result in more emissions than natural decay.
This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 7 January 2023.
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