WPR News
8:26 pm
Tue June 14, 2005

Team Investigates Elk Deaths Further

Laramie, Wy – The mystery of the large elk die off last year near Rawlins isn't over. A team of researchers is now working to find out more information about the deaths of the 450 elk. The lead investigator is Doctor Merl Raisbeck. He says he's very confident that the elk died because they ate lichen, but he's not sure why the lichen killed them. Last year many people involved with the case said ooznik acid in the lichen was responsible. Raisbeck says he does not think ooznik acid is responsible and that won't be known for sure until someone tests it on elk or sheep.
Raisbeck says right now he has no idea what toxin in the lichen is responsible for the deaths or how it reached toxic levels in a normally edible substance. He says he doubts there will be another die off this large for a few decades, but he says it is probable that a few individual elk are dying or will die because of the lichen.