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Over 100 New Mexico Elk Found Dead on Ranch

by PH Online Editors   |  August 29th, 2013 11

New Mexico wildlife officials are left scratching their heads after a herd of elk was found dead earlier this week near Mora, N.M.

According to KRQE-TV, over 100 elk were found dead at the 75,000-acre Buena Vista Ranch about 20 miles north of Las Vegas, N.M., with no external signs of injury.

Check out the video from KRQE-TV in Albuquerque.

Officials from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish said the elk weren’t shot, so poachers are off the hook this time.

So what caused the massive die-off? According to the Albuquerque Journal, officials say it could range from poison to blue tongue disease, but the chief suspect right now is epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).

“What we do know from aerial surveys is that the die-off appears to be confined to a relatively small area, and that the elk were not shot by poachers,” said New Mexico Game and Fish disease specialist Kerry Mower in a press release.

Usually found in whitetails, EHD is a viral disease transmitted strictly from insect bites; it cannot be passed directly from one elk to another. Infected animals first lose their appetites about seven days after contracting EHD. The animals become progressively weaker and salivate excessively, and develop a high pulse, respiration rate and fever. Soon after, the animals go into shock and die. The disease is not transmittable to humans.

Tissue and water samples are being collected and tested at the New Mexico Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory for traces of the disease.

“With EHD, an elk could get a fever,” Game and Fish spokesperson Rachel Shockley told KRQE. “It’s usually a pretty fast illness, and up to eight to 36 hours later the animals go into shock, and then they die.”

The die-off comes just days ahead of New Mexico’s archery elk season. No other mass die-offs have been discovered, but officials are urging hunters to report any elk behaving strangely.

  • Fieldkorn

    Aliens, I tell ‘ya. Aliens did it! They mistook the elk for a herd of cattle.

    • NachoLibre

      You’re probably right. Area 51 is not far away, so there’s a good chance this was either aliens or a secret gov’t weapon that was tested on elk. EHD? Puh-lease.

  • RowdyD

    Tragic Loss…I hope they test them for nerve gas as it is odd how it appears they all dropped where they were standing

  • Pooster

    Question PETA and other anti-hunter groups. The timing is not a coincidence.

  • Woes

    Have they checked the area for anthrax spores? I’m not talking terrorist white powder in an envelope… I’m talking the spore found in nature, untapped, unrefined anthrax.

  • TheCaptain

    Tragic situation, conspiracy theories aside. Very sad. Perhaps they should reduce the number of tags available as a result though. And yes, I am a conservative, lifelong hunter before anyone freaks out.

  • Ilinois

    Doesn’t look like EHD. They would have been in or very near water.

  • Jig-B-Gone

    Michelle Obama promptly consumed all carcasses…

  • GunApp

    Ill tell you what! for the latest firearms, shooting, and sporting news!

    Follow us on twitter! @gunapp_net #gunapp

  • Lichens maybe

    Wyoming had this happen a few years ago and it was from a lichen the elk were eating. Tumbleweed shield lichen (Xanthoparmelia chlorochroa).

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