Elk Deaths Double to 16, Poison Lichen Suspected

Laramie, WY – The number of elk dead or paralyzed in the
Red Rim area near Rawlins has doubled to 16 animals.

Erin Smith of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said eight more down or dead elk were found Tuesday in the wildlife habitat area south of Interstate 80 and about 15 miles west of Rawlins.

The deaths that began last week echo a 2004 occurrence of lichen poisoning that killed hundreds of elk in the Red Rim area.

Wildlife scientists believe the current deaths are caused by elk eating a common lichen that contains an as-yet-unknown toxic substance.

Game and Fish officials began a hay-baiting program Monday in an effort to get elk away from the northern portion of the Red Rim where lichen is most common.