Hundreds of wild sparrows, a protected species in the country, were found dying one after another and falling off trees near a wholesale grain market in Handan, Hebei Province, late last week.
"Living on the trees for years, the birds have been getting alone well with us. It's really a pity for us to see so many lovely birds die one after the other in about an hour that day," one witness said, hoping authorities could look into the case.
"Such a massive death of sparrows was possibly caused by intended food poisoning," experts from a local zoo said, urging locals not to pick up the bird carcasses as food for their pets.
(Yanzhao Evening News January 11, 2008)