LANDER – Over the weekend the Wyoming Game and Fish Department darted, collared, and released two elk near Lander. The GPS collars deployed on the elk will assist Game and Fish in learning more about where these elk are spending the majority of their time.
Disease samples were also taken from these elk to test for brucellosis. Recently, livestock producers in the areas where the elk have been spending their time have expressed concern over the transmission of brucellosis to their cattle.
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that often causes abortion of first fetuses after infection. It is primarily transmitted through aborted embryonic materials and fluids. Brucellosis has been found in elk hunt area 28 (Lander) in the past. Only 3 of 327 samples collected since 1991 have tested positive and the last was in 2002 around 20 miles away from the elk causing recent concerns. If present, February to June is the peak time transmission could occur.
Game and Fish has also applied for and received a lethal take permit to remove up to 25 elk near Lander in areas where documented mixing of elk and cattle has occurred. Removing elk from the herd will be one tool Game and Fish uses to sample for brucellosis infection and to discourage elk from mixing with cattle.
To reduce the mixing of elk and cattle in the future there will be a late season elk area 28 license available for the next few years to discourage elk from lingering in these problem areas. The goal is not to remove all elk from these wintering locations, but to learn more about their seasonal movements and discourage them from spending time in the same areas as cattle on feed lines.