USDA: We Poisoned Those 200 Dead Birds Mass animal death in South Dakota has less-than-mysterious cause By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Jan 21, 2011 8:04 AM CST 20 comments Comments Starlings return to roost on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury on January 7, 2010 in Somerset, England. (Getty Images) (Newser) – The latest mass animal death—hundreds of dead birds found Monday in South Dakota—is no mystery, reports the Huffington Post: The US government killed them. When more than 200 starlings turned up dead, cold weather was initially suspected as the culprit. But now the USDA has admitted to poisoning the birds, KTIV reports. Some 5,000 birds had apparently been relieving themselves in the feed at a nearby feedlot, which threatened animals and farm workers, said the USDA—so it took action. The birds were killed by lacing bait with a poison called DRC-1339, and officials said they were surprised at how far the poisoned birds got—about 10 miles—before dying. Click here for more.