More elk than usual died this year on two wildlife feed grounds in western Wyoming.
Mark Gocke with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says about 160 animals died on the Camp Creek and Soda Lake feed grounds. Most were calves.
The reason was a combination of disease and wolf predation. Gocke says they had a very wet spring this year, which made it easy for bacteria to spread.
“It’s probably just a combination of elk being weakened by the disease, and then a predator doing what predators do: they see a weak animal, and they will go in and take it,” Gocke said.
This is not the first time this has happened on winter feed grounds; Gocke says they had similar levels of elk mortality on the National Elk Refuge in 2006. He says disease outbreaks are always worrisome, but that unless the trend continues for more than a year, it won’t be devastating to the elk population.