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Dieing elk found


New member
Dec 20, 2000
Jackson, Wyoming
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating the deaths of around 80 elk that have died mysteriously over the past couple of weeks. A coyote hunter southwest of Rawlins discovered two elk that were alive, but seemed to be unable to move on February 8th. Since the, officials have found dozens of dead and dying elk using an airplane and combing the area on foot and four wheelers. All of the elk exhibit similar symptoms, particularly the inability to move. The elk have been found lying down and unable to move, although many have been alert, and otherwise in good condition. A veterinarian from the state's research lab, as well as a toxicologist and a pathologist are working to determine what is causing the die-off. There is no evidence that the elk, which are mostly prime breeding-age cows, have been harassed or run until exhaustion. A herd of approximately 600 elk nearby appears to be healthy and unaffected. Several of the dead elk are being analyzed in the state vet lab to determine the cause of death and all avenues including disease, poison and other factors are being explored. Game and Fish officials are closely monitoring the situation and expect some preliminary lab results early next week. The dying elk are scattered over a 10-15 square mile area in elk hunting unit 108.
Man that doesn't sound good at all. :confused: It almost sounds like they got into some poison or something. Lets hope for the best for the rest of the herds.
This doesn't sound right. anyone ever hear of this happening before with this amount of elk. I know we have to expect a winter die off but this is different. keep it up and let us know what is going on.
:confused: That's odd. This doesn't sound like CWD either. Is it just affecting the cows of the heard or are there bulls too? :confused: Where they able to be approached without trying to protect them selves like get up adn run away? Huh? this is odd. Well keep us posted BIll.
Quick Draw
In the Rawlins paper today (2/24) It says the death count is now over 200 head and the game and fish expects alot more. Warden Brown"said he thinks the the symptons could result from a toxin, possibly from water." Its wired the elk are alert they just can't stand up.
Thanks for the update and welcome to Moosie's Hunt Talk fishhunt.

Dead, dying elk mystery to agents
Associated Press

RAWLINS, Wyo. - Poison and disease are being considered in the mysterious deaths of at least 200 elk southwest of here.

Two affected elk were found by hunters earlier this month, and the Game and Fish Department has since discovered dozens of dead and dying elk by combing the Red Rim Wildlife Habitat Management Area on foot, four wheelers and by airplane.

At least another 100 elk were found over the weekend.

All have similar symptoms, particularly the inability to move. Many elk were found alive but had to be shot after authorities were told they would not recover, game warden Benge Brown said.

"They are alert, but they just have no strength," said Kent Schmidlin, Lander region wildlife supervisor. "When we find them, they are lying down on the ground but they can't get up, almost like they are paralyzed in their lower extremities."

A veterinarian, toxicologist and pathologist are analyzing about 10 of the carcasses to determine what caused their death. Poison, disease and other factors are being explored, with preliminary results expected early next week.

An area water well was also being tested, Brown said.

The elk were otherwise in good condition and there was no evidence they were harassed or run to exhaustion. Mother Nature can't be blamed either.

"It's a pretty light winter out there," Schmidlin said.

A nearby herd of about 600 elk appears to be unaffected, he said.

"Right now, we are asking folks to stay out of the area so we can do our investigation and find out what is killing these elk," said Joe Nemick, the region's lead wildlife biologist.

[ 02-25-2004, 07:07: Message edited by: Elkhunter ]
Southwest of Rawlins is a big area. Any more details as to the exact hunting areas? That was my favorite area for general tags in previous years. That really sucks.

:confused: I thought elk could tell when water or food sources were bad for them to eat? I guess that is just live stock type animals that can do that. :rolleyes: Oh well I hope that they find out something soon.
Quick Draw
I live in Rawlins and of today the toll is up to 280 head. Yesterday the game & fish captured four elk that were alive but could not stand up,they were taken to Wyoming state veterinary lab in Laramie. Each elk is receiving a slightly diffiernt treatment. No results were evident in the first 24 hours of treatment. I will update when I hear more
P.S The elk are in area 108
Otherwise healthy elk not being able to stand sounds familiar. We saw a young bull in a catchment who was acting similar. They put him down and hauled the carcass off to burn it. Never did find out what was wrong. He had some obvious signs of distress though.. He'd been running up and down the catchment fence and had beaten his lower jaw to hamburger.

What ever it turns out to be, I'll bet it is something introduced by man....

Laboratory tests and analysis have conclusively ruled out several causes, including chronic wasting disease, some insecticides and a variety of metals, in the mysterious deaths of elk southwest of Rawlins.
UPDATE- The game & fish have tested the four suspicious water sources and all were found to be safe. They now think it could be a "primary muscle lesion that causes them to go down" They say sever stress or long distance running can affect an animal's muscles. Not ruled out but unlikely are poisons 1080. Game & fish don't know what would have harassed the elk the make them run for that long of a period. I due know that about a month ago the were a group of wolves just west of town, a rancher is in trouble for shooting one of the wolves.
I saw this a week or so ago, it seems to be the darndest thing to date....
I sure hope they find out what the cause is and get it fixed, this would not bode well in the elk hills we all love to run...

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