By Elsa Heidorn
Laramie, WY – Idaho Fish and Game officials now have tissue samples from the domesticated elk that escaped from an Idaho hunting reserve last month and they're planning to run tests. Wildlife officials and hunters have shot eighteen of the approximately 160 elk that escaped from a farm near the Idaho-Wyoming border. Tests of the animals' tissue will determine if the fugitive elk have brucellosis, chronic wasting disease or parasites. The officials are worried that the domestic elk could transmit diseases to the wild herds. Terry Mansfield at the Idaho Fish and Game Department says if the tests for disease come back positive, they'll be ready.
In addition to testing for disease, they'll check the DNA of the domestic elk to see if the animals are hybrids. Officials are concerned that the escaped animals could breed with wild elk and bring down the genetic purity of the herd.