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Mysterious elk illness baffles wildlife experts


Staff writers
January 5, 2013 — A mysterious illness has Fish & Wildlife officials in Canmore, Alberta keeping a close eye on their elk population. Kelsey McEwen reports.


The recovering elk is being monitored closely as such a stressful event could still prove fatal
The recovering elk is being monitored closely as such a stressful event could still prove fatal

A mysterious illness is baffling wildlife officials in Canmore, Alberta after a large bull elk had to be euthanized.

The animal was one of two that suddenly became severely ill with symptoms such as lack of movement in the hind end, low power, a sagging back end and reluctance to move.

Officials are concerned that the elk might have ingested toxic substances because no signs of trauma were found on the animals.

"Perhaps a vehicle antifreeze was ingested, that got onto the grass," said Fish and Wildlife officer Dave Dickson. "It does attack liver kidney function and that could put pressure on the back end."

The ailment struck the elk fast and their condition rapidly declined over a couple of days resulting in them separating from the rest of the herd.

Despite the second elk's recovery, it still could be in trouble as an event in the middle of winter might prove fatal.

"The biggest thing right now is just monitoring him to keep him off the highway, and perhaps off the train tracks."

The university of Calgary is performing toxicology tests on the body of the deceased elk in hopes of finding some answers.

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