Elk deaths in Tennessee – 04/09/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm #447

    The Associated Press

    GATLINBURG, Tenn. —
    The unexplained deaths of four elk in different areas of the Great
    Smoky Mountains National Park have wildlife biologists awaiting test
    results, according to park officials.

    The park has a herd of about 60 elk from a reintroduction project
    started in 2001.

    Remains of all four animals found in recent weeks have been taken to
    the University of Tennessee Department of Veterinary Medicine, a
    statement released Friday said.

    “We have been remarkably lucky with an 88 percent survival rate in
    our adult elk during the first three years of this five year
    experimental release,” said park wildlife biologist Kim DeLozier.

    He said “late winter is also a time of high stress for elk and many
    other species.”

    On March 19, a male elk was found near death in the Towstring area
    near Cherokee, N.C. Rangers had reported dogs running wild a few
    miles away days before the elk was found and dogs were seen chasing
    the elk into a river.

    On April 1, a park volunteer in Cataloochee Valley saw a male elk
    showing signs of a neurological disorder, including loss of balance.
    By the time biologists arrived, the animal was near death and had to
    be euthanized. The symptoms were consistent with a parasitic

    Wildlife managers overseeing about 3,000 elk in Kentucky have found
    that the brainworm kills about 10 percent of the herd each year.

    On March 15, researchers began getting a mortality signal from the
    radio collar on a bull. The collars are designed to send the signal
    if the animal remains motionless for several hours. It will also
    signal if a collar falls off.

    On Sunday, a park neighbor found remains of an elk in the White Oak
    area just outside the park. The collar was found nearly a mile from
    the remains.

    On Wednesday, biologists found the carcass of a female elk that had
    been outside the park in Maggie Valley.

    DeLozier said that “even with the recent deaths the park elk project
    continues to meet or exceed our original expectations. And this
    year’s calving season is only about six weeks away, so we may see as
    many as 20 calves in 2004 to replace these losses.”

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