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Several elk die in Missouri

Heat, drought could be to blame

The Missouri Department of Conservation is awaiting additional laboratory test results to help determine the causes of recent elk deaths, including six cow elk.

One yearling bull elk also was found dead along with three calves, two of which were born to cow elk that died. All deaths occurred in mid-to-late July and involved elk relocated earlier this year from Kentucky to Missouri’s elk restoration zone in Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties.

According to MDC resource scientist Lonnie Hansen, preliminary test results from several veterinary pathology laboratories have not pointed to one specific cause of death for all animals. A combination of stress from relocation, extreme heat and drought conditions appear to be contributing factors.

Hansen and other MDC staff are working with state veterinarians from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and experts from the University of Missouri Veterinary Services to learn more. Staff are also consulting wildlife veterinarians and other experts from around the country.

In addition, three newborn calves from elk brought to Missouri in 2012 died in June shortly after birth. One elk cow and her calf from the 2011 restoration group died while birthing in early June.

Hansen said all restored elk underwent a series of health tests after capture in Kentucky and received clean bills of health before being relocated to MDC’s Peck Ranch Conservation Area in May.

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