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