Indiana DNR lifts moratorium on feeding birds

It’s OK for bird lovers across the state to set out their bird feeds again, according to Indiana’s department of natural resources (DNR).

The news was announced late Friday afternoon on a web page the DNR set up to inform Hoosier bird lovers about the status of a mysterious malady, which three months ago started leaving songbirds of several species dead or dying.

The green light to set out feeders came with a caveat. The DNR says: “Residents throughout Indiana may again put out their bird feeders if they are comfortable doing so and are not observing sick or dead birds in their yard.”

The cause of the dead and sick birds is still not known. According to the DNR webpage, “The cause of this disease is unknown and it is possible it may never be determined.”

The statement from the DNR continues, “The USGS National Wildlife Health Center and other researchers are continuing the investigation with existing samples and data, but unless the event repeats, it is unlikely they will be able to identify a cause in the short-term.” Continue reading “Indiana DNR lifts moratorium on feeding birds”

Some Indiana counties with urban hubs should still not feed birds, mystery of deaths not solved

New advice to bird lovers was given early Monday afternoon on the updated webpage about mysterious songbird deaths, created by Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

People in 16 Indiana counties should continue to refrain from feeding birds, in order to reduce the chance of promoting a pattern of dead and dying birds.

The pattern was first noticed in late June. It could be caused by a pathogen that is spread from bird to bird, but that’s still not known.

The DNR’s previous advice against feeding birds applied statewide.

The malady involves eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. Similar reports have come from Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, according to the US Geological survey.

Affected species include: American robin, blue jay, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle, European starling, various species of sparrows and finches, and northern cardinal. Continue reading “Some Indiana counties with urban hubs should still not feed birds, mystery of deaths not solved”

No conclusions yet on songbird deaths as Indiana adds to number of species and counties affected

In the two weeks since Indiana’s state ornithologist Allisyn Gillet held a conference on the topic, the Department of Natural Resources has not yet determined what is causing the deaths of several species of birds in this and other states.

Reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs, have come from Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, according to the US Geological survey.

An update was made on Tuesday to the Indiana DNR’s web page that has been set up to provide information about the songbird deaths.

The updates included additional species of birds that have been documented as sick or dying in Indiana. Added to American robin, blue jay, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle, northern cardinal, are European starling, sparrow, house finch, red-headed woodpecker, and wren.

Tuesday’s update increased the number of Indiana counties reporting songbird deaths from 53 to 69. That leaves just 23 counties in Indiana that have not reported some songbird deaths as a part of the pattern. Continue reading “No conclusions yet on songbird deaths as Indiana adds to number of species and counties affected”

Songbird deaths still a mystery, as state, local experts advise: Don’t promote bird gatherings

The word on Wednesday from Indiana’s department of natural resources (DNR) was that tests on dead songbirds, now reported in 50 of Indiana’s 92 counties, are still not conclusive.

So state officials still don’t know whether the phenomenon is being caused by a disease or a toxin. The DNR reports that all the birds have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.

Species of birds involved include: blue jay, American robin, common grackle, starling, northern cardinal, brown-headed cowbird.

The DNR has set up a web page dedicated to the topic of songbird deaths, with a way to subscribe to updates on the latest information.

Indiana’s state ornithologist, Allisyn Gillet wrote in an email to The B Square on Wednesday, “[W]e still do not have any conclusive results about the songbirds declining because our tests and analyses are still pending. The tests are exploring every possible cause…”

In the meantime, bird lovers are being told to remove backyard implements that encourage birds to gather—like feeders and birdbaths. [Updated July 2 at 7:08 p.m.: Indiana’s DNR has updated its page with a link to an audio recording of a Q&A with Gillet.] Continue reading “Songbird deaths still a mystery, as state, local experts advise: Don’t promote bird gatherings”

Monroe County prosecutor on assault of Vauhxx Booker: DNR investigation of July 4 case is not yet complete

On Saturday, July 4, at Lake Monroe, Bloomington resident Vauhxx Booker was assaulted by a group of white men in a case Booker has described as an “attempted lynching.”

In a press release issued a little before 5 p.m. on Thursday, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office gave a status update: No charges have been filed because the investigation is not yet complete.

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Facebook videos of an incident described by the man being held down in the left frame as an “attempted lynching.” Image links to Facebook post.

The press release, which came from prosector Erika Oliphant, indicates that no charges have yet been filed, because the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division (IDNR Law Enforcement), has not completed its investigation and turned over all its evidence to the prosecutor.

The statement says, “At this time, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office cannot speculate as to charges. IDNR Law Enforcement will forward their investigative report to the Prosecutor’s Office immediately upon completion, at which time it will be expeditiously reviewed.”

About the investigation, the press release says, “Since the initial response, IDNR Law Enforcement has been working diligently to complete the investigation.” Continue reading “Monroe County prosecutor on assault of Vauhxx Booker: DNR investigation of July 4 case is not yet complete”

Monroe County prosecutor to weigh possible charges in case described as “attempted lynching” by target of assault

According to deputy prosecutor Jeff Kehr, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office will be reviewing reports from the Indiana Conservation Officers (ICO) about an “attempted lynching” at Lake Monroe on July 4. The ICO is law enforcement division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Facebook videos of an incident described by the man being held down in the left frame as an “attempted lynching.” Image links to Facebook post.

The ICO will be providing the prosecutor’s office with their investigative reports, witness statements, and digital evidence, according to Kehr. “We will thoroughly review all of the information presented to us and decide what charges are appropriate,” Kehr’s statement said.

On Sunday, Vauhxx Booker, who is an activist and a member of Monroe County’s human rights commission, posted to Facebook a video showing parts of the incident, including footage of him being held down against a tree trunk.

Booker described part of the episode this way: “I tussled with the two and another one joined in, then two more. The five were able to easily overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me pinning my body against a tree as they began pounding on my head and ripped off some of my hair, with several of them still on top of my body holding me down.”

Booker stated in his Facebook post that one of his assailants told his comrades several times to “get a noose.”

Several people, among them elected officials, wrote in Facebook comments that they will be contacting Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant about the incident.

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, and city clerk, Nicole Bolden issued a joint statement Monday morning about the Lake Monroe incident and a separate one in Bloomington that took place the day before. About the two incidents, their statement said, “They require that we come together as a whole, and recognize that racism damages all of us, not just our residents of color. We deserve better, and we must make it happen.” Continue reading “Monroe County prosecutor to weigh possible charges in case described as “attempted lynching” by target of assault”