Elk Update

More Cervid Contraception: GonaCon and ElkIn February, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission collared 11 elk for a study in north-central Nebraska. There are a few more details in this brief KOLN-TV report.

A new elk study in Montana got more coverage. There, 45 cow and 20 bull elk were fitted with tracking collars. Five of those were traditional radio collars, the rest were GPS collars. The two year study will investigate elk movement patterns and food. Read about it in the Ravalli Republic.

In Wyoming, the concern is the potential to spread of chronic wasting disease at the 22 artificial feeding stations run by the state and one at the National Elk Refuge. Read the opinion piece in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, here.

An opinion piece that is getting a lot of buzz ran in the New York Times recently. It says that wolves did not fix the Yellowstone ecosystem by preying on elk and allowing aspen to grow. No, the article says, the Yellowstone ecosystem is broken, and mere wolves can’t fix it. Read the article in the New York Times, here.

Photo of bull elk courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

Elk Killed by Blue-Green Algae

More Cervid Contraception: GonaCon and ElkOutbreaks of blue-green algae are a growing plague across the country. Pollution plays a role, by providing nutrients (the pollution is typically fertilizer, but also detergents containing phosphates) that allow the algae (which isn’t really algae, but a photosynthetic bacteria — read more here) to grow to unnatural levels.

The toxins in blue-green algae can kill animals such as dogs or cattle that drink the water. Children are at higher risk from blue-green algae toxins than adults for the same reason; they are more likely to drink water while swimming. Hot weather and still lakes or ponds make things worse, leading some states to produce regular reports on where blue-green algae is found.

A mysterious die-off of 100 elk in New Mexico appears to have been caused by blue-green algae, an article in the Southwest Farm Press reports. Biologists from the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish considered many common causes of elk death, including epizootic hemorrhagic disease, anthrax and lightning.

A search of nearby water sources found blue-green algae in fiberglass water tanks in the area where the elk died, but not in ceramic water tanks in the same area. Just another possibility to consider when you are faced with an unexplained wildlife die-off.

Read the entire article in the Southwest Farm Press.

Photo: Photo: A healthy bull elk. Credit: Gary Zahm, courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service