Wildlife biologists investigating mass elk deaths

Posted at: 08/29/2013 10:34 AM
Updated at: 08/29/2013 12:00 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com

LAS VEGAS, N.M. -- The Department of Game and Fish is investigating the deaths of more than 100 elk discovered in northeastern New Mexico.

Department biologists traveled to the area near Las Vegas after hearing reports of the carcasses on Tuesday morning. The biologists found at least 100 dead elk in a half-mile area. Tissue and water samples from the area were taken and delivered to the state veterinary lab for analysis.

"At this time we're looking into all possible causes, including epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD)," said Kerry Mower, the department's wildlife disease specialist. "What we do know from aerial surveys is that the die-off appears to be confined to a relatively small area, and that the elk were not shot by poachers."

EHD is a sometimes fatal virus that affects deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and rarely cattle. The disease has been found throughout the United States and has been known to kill large numbers of animals in short periods of time.

The department advises hunters who hold licenses for Unit 46 to be vigilant for deer, elk or antelope that have unusual behavior or appear sick. Hunters should not harvest those animals, and should report anything unusual to the department's toll-free information line, (888)-248-6866.