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Pinedale Online > News > January 2005 > G&F to test elk for Brucellosis
G&F to test elk for Brucellosis
Alpine & South Park Feedgrounds
by WGFD news release
January 24, 2005

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be testing brucellosis-infected elk at Alpine and South Park Feedgrounds at the end of January. The study, a cooperative effort between Wyoming State Veterinarian Laboratory and WGFD, will require the euthanization of fifteen adult cow elk at Alpine feedground and three adult cow elk from South Park feedground. Managers are fully utilizing this opportunity to attain necropsy samples for research on herd health, seroprevalence levels, DNA fingerprinting techniques, and the development of new tests to identify Brucellosis.

The Alpine elk feedground has seen recent increases in seroprevelance of brucellosis in elk from 9% five years ago to 59% last year, despite the Game and Fish Department's vaccination and other management efforts. Veterinarians plan to use tissue samples from necropsy to identify the cause of this increase. "It's very puzzling as to why after years of testing showed a steady decline in seroprevalence we would suddenly see such a drastic increase in exposure to the disease," said Hank Edwards, WGFD wildlife disease specialist.

"Unfortunately, the only way to tell if these elk really have brucellosis is to culture tissues from a necropsy." "The elk will be euthanized with the most humane techniques available," said Edwards.

The recent outbreak of brucellosis in Teton county cattle has prompted the need for the test and removal of three elk at South Park feedground. From these samples, managers hope to determine if the brucellosis strain that was found in the cattle can be linked to elk. Blood samples from captured elk will show if the animal has been exposed to Brucella abortus, those elk showing a high exposure to the disease will be removed because of the likelihood that these elk actually have brucellosis.

Brucellosis is a disease found in free-ranging elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Brucellosis is a density dependent disease most commonly caused by the bacteria Brucella abortus. This bacterium is primarily passed among cattle, elk, and bison at the time of calving. Brucellosis cases in cattle herds have caused Wyoming to lose its brucellosis free status.

For more information, contact Chris Colligan, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Brucellosis Information and Education Specialist, PO Box 67, Jackson, WY 83001,
Phone: (307) 733-2321 Ext. 232, e-mail:

Pinedale Online > News > January 2005 > G&F to test elk for Brucellosis

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