For 200 dead cows in Wisconsin, these mass animal deaths around the globe are pretty timely. Any other time, their deaths would be buried somewhere on the 10th page of the newspaper. They may not have even made the paper at all. But this year, in light of the hysteria, they are front page news.
For those living under a rock, here's the skinny on the animal mayhem: thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year's Eve, following a massive fish kill just 100 miles away days earlier. In the week following, other mass bird deaths were reported. Birds were also reported to fall dead from the sky in both Italy and Sweden and then in California.
Meanwhile 40,000 dead crabs washed ashore on England beaches.
These were all reported with such fervor, one might think the freaky doomsayers had a point for once. But nope, sorry. They are just as nuts as ever.
But why did these cows actually die? They probably had (gasp!) a disease. A highly infectious, common disease. It was probably infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, at least according to the farmer who raised them. It isn't nearly as exciting as aliens or the wrath of God or even government experiments, but it's the cycle of life. Doesn't anybody watch the Lion King?
The fact is mass animal deaths aren't all that uncommon. I know, I know. It's disappointing, but it's true:
"Federal records show they happen on average every other day somewhere in North America. Usually, we don't notice them and don't try to link them to each other. They generally fly under the radar," said ornithologist John Wiens, chief scientist at the California research institution PRBO Conservation Science.
Like stranger kidnappings, shark attacks, and teen moms, it's the media -- not the reality -- that brings it to the forefront. Teen pregnancy is actually on the decline. Shark attacks and stranger kidnappings are as uncommon as ever, but if you ask most consumers of mainstream news, it seems otherwise.
For some reason, news cycles can get stuck on repeat and, yes, the mass animal deaths were weird, especially given the day they started (January 1). But given how common they are in nature, an educated person can quickly surmise that they mean nothing in terms of the End of Days or apocalypse or any other doomsday scenario cooked up by Hollywood, the media, and overactive imaginations.
Animal deaths happen. The cycle of life continues and will continue, but when this news cycle ends, we will be none the wiser.
Do you think these cow deaths have meaning?
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