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Murder mystery: Missouri Department of Conservation investigates what killed downtown crows

Experts won't know an official cause until test results are returned.

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Department of Conservation is trying to solve a "murder" mystery downtown after a large number of crows suddenly died.

“Seasonally, crows and many other birds will group together in large flocks,” Roger Holloway, Executive Director of the World Bird Sanctuary. “Especially in winter before breeding season in the spring.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Conservation said the birds, which are called a "murder" when in large groups, didn’t appear physically injured and there were no signs of bleeding. That rules out an attack or shooting.

Poison is an option but as of now it appears only crows were impacted. That diminishes the chances of this scenario.

Holloway said the birds may have been sick.

“If there is a virus or a bacteria of some kind, that would spread more quickly,” Holloway said. “Just like the pandemic, when we were close together, we knew that was a better chance for the virus to spread among us.”

A large amount of birds dying has happened a few times in the past.

“Many years ago it was identified that West Nile virus was killing birds including crows, because we could do detailed autopsies,” Hollow way said.

For now, the only sure way to solve this mystery is to wait for the test results of the dead birds. The conservation department said there’s no timetable on when the toxicology, pathology and necropsies will be completed.

On Friday, MDC received partial lab results from the first group of crows that were found near the federal courthouse downtown. A spokesman said bird flu was not detected and diagnostics to determine the cause of death are still in progress.

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