Two Dozen Elk Dead In OK -
Cause So Far Undiagnosed

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
From ProMED-mail
By Monica Keen
Sequoyah County Times
The discovery of over 25 dead elk on a property south of Muldrow, Oklahoma has sparked an investigation by wildlife officials to determine why the animals died.
"It's an ongoing investigation," Chief Larry Manering with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said Thursday. Manering said it was his understanding the Sequoyah County Sheriff''s office received a complaint from concerned citizens about dead elk that could be seen from the road.
Manering said wildlife personnel, the sheriff's office, and officials with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture are involved in the investigation.
One of those concerns is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is currently a hot topic nationwide, Manering said. He said CWD is one of the diseases the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture is testing for in this herd of elk.[Chronic Wasting Disease does not typically affect this many animals all at one time. - Mod.TG]
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Web site, CWD is a degenerative neurological illness affecting farmed and wild elk and deer in North America. No other types of animals are affected.
"Oklahoma has no documentation of any CWD," Manering said.
Manering said wild deer are tested each year to make sure there are no cases of CWD, since CWD would be a detriment to wildlife and the state.
Jack Carson, spokesperson for the department of agriculture, said the dead elk could be linked to a parasite problem or they could have been aged animals.
Carson said from his understanding the dead elk were part of a fairly sizeable farmed-elk herd, but he did not have a head count.
"This is standard operating procedures," he said. "We do this for any serious disease."
Carson said the agriculture department's primary concerns are animal health and carcass disposal. He said the department makes sure carcasses are buried properly.
Carson said the wildlife conservation department manages a herd of elk in the Cookson Hills area and they have a problem called brain worm in that herd, which is responsible for much of elk death there.
"It's very possible that's what we could be looking at with this," Carson said.
Manering said after their investigation is complete, the district attorney's office will decide if any charges, such as wildlife violations, will be filed against the elk owners. He noted that game wardens have not written any citations.
Neither CWD nor brain worm is likely to affect this many animals in one location at the same time. If the animals are new to the pasture, or this is the 1st spring in that pasture, it may be a plant that is toxic to the animals.
Since the carcasses were visible from the roadside, it could be poison maliciously put into the field. - Mod.TG]
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
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