Elk

Health Issues Which May Affect This Animal

What Causes This Disease?

The bacteria that are commonly associated with abscesses are common in the environment. A variety of bacteria are associated with abscesses in deer and elk including Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Trueperella pyogenes, Pseudomonas spp., Streptococcus spp. and Staphylococcus spp.. Most abscesses are found in lymph nodes and internal organs and contain thick, greenish yellow or white purulent material.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Abscesses occur commonly in many species of wildlife across North America. Abscesses of many origins in many wildlife species have been documented in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Abscesses are typically characterized by variable sized pockets of pus which can be located anywhere on the body, usually under the skin or in skeletal muscles. In mammals, abscesses do not typically cause illness because the abscess is usually localized. Abscesses that spread along the muscle layers, or into various organs may cause pathological conditions that can be detrimental to the animal's health. In birds, abscesses usually form enlarged spherical areas that may hinder movement or feeding ability. In raptors, the feet are often involved (bumblefoot) and the enlarged areas can result in an inability to stand and to capture prey.

Read More About Abscesses

What Causes This Disease?

Brucellosis in elk, bison, and cattle is caused by Brucella abortus. There are a variety of other Brucella species can affect sheep (B. ovis), goats (B. melitensis), pigs, caribou and reindeer (B. suis), dogs (B. canis), and several species of marine mammals.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Brucellosis is found worldwide in livestock, but most countries have control or eradication programs to control or eliminate the disease. Brucellosis has largely been eliminated from domestic livestock in North America. A reservoir of brucellosis occurs in elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area which includes eastern Idaho. Because wild ungulates and cattle share range, disease transmission to domestic cattle is of great concern.

Signs of Disease

There are no obvious signs of brucellosis in infected animals. Abortions can occur in the middle trimester of pregnancy. Elk infected with brucellosis may abort between January and June. There are no typical outward signs of Brucellosis in most animals. Males that are infected with brucellosis may have swollen testicles or swollen joints. In chronic infections can lead to infertility in both males and females..

Read More About Brucellosis

What Causes This Disease?

Carotid Artery Worm is caused by a parasitic nematode (Elaeophora schneideri) found in white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Carotid artery worms are widely distributed in the western United States, several southeastern states, and areas of Canada. The parasite has been documented in many parts of Idaho in mule deer, moose and elk..

Signs of Disease

Carotid artery worms are native parasites of mule deer, but have been found in white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. Most animals show no signs of sickness. However, some animals can exhibit signs including malformed antlers, blindness, muzzle or ear necrosis (destruction), and oral impactions which are caused by the worms restricting blood flow through arteries.

Read More About Carotid Artery Worm

What Causes This Disease?

CWD is a neurologic disorder that causes the brain to degenerate and develop cavities becoming sponge like in appearance. It is caused by abnormally folded proteins called prions. CWD is contagious between animals by either direct or indirect contact with infected animals or their habitat. CWD is not believed to be contagious to people.

Where Is The Disease Found?

CWD has been documented in numerous states and provinces, Korea and Norway in a variety of cervid species. It has been found in both captive and wild cervids. The current distribution of CWD in North America can be found in various links provided here. To date, there is no evidence that CWD is present in free-ranging deer or elk in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Animals infected with CWD are typically thin and show neurologic signs. The most common sign of CWD is lack of feeding, increased drinking and excessive salvation and urination. Behavioral signs include loss of fear of humans and loss of awareness of their surroundings.The most common signs of CWD in live cervids are emaciation and neurological signs. There are no typical lesions seen in animals that die of CWD but consistent signs include poor body condition and aspiration pneumonia.

Read More About Chronic Wasting Disease

What Causes This Disease?

Giant liver flukes (Fascioloides magna), also known as the American liver fluke or deer fluke, are flatworms are important parasites of deer, elk and moose in North America. The flukes are a normal parasite in white-tailed deer and occasionally elk.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Giant liver flukes are found in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and moose in many parts of North America. Giant liver flukes have been documented sporadically in a few mule deer, elk and moose in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Animals infected with giant liver flukes generally appear healthy unless large numbers of flukes are present. With large numbers of flukes, generally the liver function is compromised leading to animals in poor body condition. In definitive hosts, flukes are found in yellowish-white fibrous cysts that 1-2 inches across that contain pairs of flukes. A reddish brown liquid is found inside the cysts with the flukes. In animals that are not definitive hosts for giant liver flukes, the flukes can cause significant liver damage and ill thrift or death in severely affected individuals. The flukes continue to migrate in the liver creating numerous tracts and extensive liver damage that can lead to fibrosis and liver failure.

Read More About Giant Liver Flukes

What Causes This Disease?

Hydatids are the immature form of a tapeworm called Echinococcus granulosus. Echinococcus granulosus is a very small (3-5 m) tapeworm that requires two different animal species, a canid and an ungulate, to complete its lifecycle.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Hydatid disease is found around the world including North America where it exists in two forms – a domestic form involving domestic dogs and domestic sheep and a sylvatic form involving wolves or coyotes and ungulates. The most common form of E. granulosus is found in domestic dogs and sheep, and is found worldwide, including the western USA. The form in domestic dogs and domestic sheep is the most common source of the disease in humans. There are numerous strains of E .granulosus worldwide that occur in various host species systems e. g. wolves and wild ungulates in temperate North America, dingos and kangaroos in Australia, and jackels and domestic cattle in Africa. Hydatid cysts have been found in cattle and domestic sheep, deer, elk,. moose and mountain goats in Idaho. Adult tapeworms have been found in wolves and coyotes in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

The adult tapeworm occurs in the intestines of wolves, coyotes and foxes but they are generally asymptomatic. The larval form or hydatid cyst occurs in moose, elk and deer, and can occur in humans. In moose, deer, and elk, the cysts have thick walls and are filled with a clear watery liquid. The cysts are usually found in the lungs but can also occur in the liver or other organs. Cysts can vary in size from ¾ to 4 inches in diameter and contain hundreds of juvenile tapeworms. The presence of hydatids in herbivores usually does not cause clinical signs unless the cyst obstructs normal body function. If cysts rupture, illness can be severe.

Read More About Hydatid Disease

What Causes This Disease?

Meningeal worm is a nematode parasite, Parelaphostrongylus tenuis.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Meningeal worm is found throughout eastern North America but is usually restricted to east of the 100th meridian. Meningeal worm has not been documented in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

In the normal host, white-tailed deer, and occasionally elk, the parasite causes no clinical disease. In most elk and other ruminants (domestic sheep and goats, mule deer, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats), the abnormal migration of the L3 causes paresis of the limbs that can lead to paralysis and death.

Read More About Meningeal worm

What Causes This Disease?

The most common pathogens in bighorn sheep are respiratory bacteria Pasteurella haemolytica or Pasteurella multocida, and Mycoplasma ovipneumonia but respiratory viruses like Infectious Bovine Rhinovirus, Parainfluenza virus, Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or parasites like lungworms can contribute to pneumonia in bighorns and other ruminants. There is evidence in captive and free-ranging bighorn sheep that transmission can occur after contact with domestic sheep or goats. Other ruminants can develop pneumonia from these and other bacteria including Arcanobacter spp., Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, and Trueprella pyogenes as well as a variety of respiratory viruses.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Generally, pneumonia is a problem in bighorn sheep and to a lesser extent in deer and elk. Pneumonia in bighorn sheep has been found throughout North America. In Idaho, pneumonia in bighorns has been found in all areas where bighorn sheep exist. Isolated cases of pneumonia have been documented in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, pronghorn and mountain goats in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Clinical signs of pneumonia in ruminants include coughing, shortness of breath, and a weakened condition. Generally, animals with pneumonia will have discolored lungs possibly with adhesions to the rib cage or abscesses. In trials of captive bighorn sheep that are inoculated with Pasteurellaceae bacteria, survival is generally less than 2-3 days. Depending on the bacterial pathogen present, the nutritional and immune status of the individual, and other factors, affects range from chronic pneumonia in adult females, summer lamb mortality events and ill thrift to rapid whole herd mortality events . Often the mortality events are found by hunters or during herd surveys when carcasses or skeletons are found. Similar signs of disease occur in other ruminants affected by pneumonia but pneumonia in other species of ruminants tends to occur in single individuals rather than on a herd basis.

Read More About Pneumonia

What Causes This Disease?

Several species of tapeworm produce cystercerci in the intermediate host. The most common in cervids is Taenia hydatigena, but other species including T. pissiformis and T. krabbei.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Tapeworm cystercerci are found in appropriate ruminant hosts across most of North America. They are commonly reported in ungulates in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Cystercerci are usually small bladders, approximately 0.5-2 cm in diameter, containing fluid and a single larval tapeworm. The location of the cystercerci depends on the tapeworm species and the host species. Taenia hydatigena and T. pissiformis typically form cystercerci in the mesenteries or the liver. Taenia krabbei typically forms cystercerci in the skeletal muscle. There also may be white, star-like scars on the surface of the liver from the migration of larval tapeworms. Carnivores like wolves, coyotes and foxes are the definitive host of the adult tapeworms and usually appear healthy even though they may be infected with large numbers of tapeworms.

Read More About Tapeworm cysts (Cystercerci)

What Causes This Disease?

Winter ticks are a one-host tick of ungulates. Large numbers of ticks can cause anemia due to blood loss, hair loss due to excessive grooming, and poor body condition due to inadequate food intake.

Where Is The Disease Found?

Winter ticks are present in nearly all areas of ungulate distribution in North America except for Alaska. Winter ticks have been identified in most ungulate species in Idaho.

Signs of Disease

Winter ticks are usually not seen on animals in the larval or nymphal stages as these are relatively small. The adult males and females are the same size as typical wood ticks. The engorged adult females can be 1-2 cm in diameter. Moose, elk and deer with large numbers of winter ticks often lose significant amounts of hair, especially in late winter. Some of these animals may be lethargic and appear weak from loss of blood, hypothermia and inadequate nutrition.

Read More About Winter ticks

News

  • Superhunt 2nd Chance

    Enter the 2nd Super Hunt Drawing!

    In 2015, Dawn Paynter won a Super Hunt elk tag.  This tag meant she was able to hunt elk in any open  hunt in the state.  

    “When I got the phone call, I couldn’t speak, and I had tears in my eyes,” Paynter said. “I knew I had endless opportunities to fill my tag and never doubted that I would harvest a large bull.”

  • Bull elk

    Capped resident elk tags go on sale in early July

    Resident hunters wanting to purchase a general season elk tag in a capped zone will need to keep two dates in mind in early July.

    On Monday, July 10, all resident capped elk zone tags, except for the Sawtooth Zone, go on sale at 10 a.m. (MDT) at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, with a credit card by going online to https://id.outdoorcentral.us , or by calling (800) 554-8685.

  • Draw Results Available Now...

    Controlled hunt results available, pick up tags by August 1

    Big game hunters who were successful in drawing controlled hunt tags for deer, elk, pronghorn, fall turkey and black bear have until midnight Mountain Daylight Time, Tuesday, August 1 to buy their tags.

    Applicants can find out if they drew a tag by checking the controlled hunt drawing results on the Idaho Fish and Game web site at http://idfg.idaho.gov/CH.

  • Draw Results Available Now...

    Big game controlled hunt drawing results online

    Hunters who applied for elk, deer, pronghorn, fall turkey and black bear controlled hunts can check online to see whether they were successful in the recent computerized drawing.

    Drawing results are now available at: http://idfg.idaho.gov/CH.

    Applicants can enter their hunting license number and follow three simple steps to find out instantly if they were successful or not in the drawing. Traffic on the website may be heavy at times, so please be patient.

  • Controlled Hunt Drawings - What happens between June 5 and July 10?

    One question we’re frequently asked is “why does it take so long to get controlled hunt drawing results?” Here’s a brief synopsis of what occurs between the close of the application period (June 5) and the date we commit to providing results (July 10):

    First, not everyone applies for controlled hunts at a vendor or online; we also accept mail-in applications. Because these applications can be postmarked through June 5, we’re often still receiving and processing mail applications in mid-June. Mailed applications are entered as quickly as possible.

  • mule deer, winter, southwest region, Weiser

    Winter kill was less than expected for mule deer, and elk fared better

    Elk survival was better than mule deer with 54 percent of radio collared calves and 96 percent of collared cows making it through winter. 

  • new super hunt

    Super Hunt winners announced

    Winners in the first of two Idaho Super Hunt drawings have been drawn.

    Of the 57,048 total entries, 20,092 were for eight deer tags, 19,904 were for eight elk tags, 4,286 were for eight pronghorn tags, 8,438 were for one moose tag, and 4,328 entries were for one Super Hunt Combo, which includes a tag for each of the four species.

    All winners have been contacted. State law prohibits Fish and Game from releasing the names of the winners.

    Super Hunt winners by species, number drawn and state were:

  • Yellowstone elk

    Most ‘capped’ resident elk tags go on sale July 10, Sawtooth tags available July 12

    Resident hunters wanting to purchase a general season elk tag in a ‘capped’ zone will want to review this year’s seasons and rules booklet for changes on how tags will be sold in July.

    All resident capped elk zone tags, except for the Sawtooth Zone, go on sale at 10 a.m. (MDT) on July 10 at Fish and Game offices, license vendors, or with a credit card by going online to https://idfg.idaho.gov, or by calling (800) 554-8685.

  • Yellowstone elk

    June 5 is last day to apply for big game controlled hunts

    Hunters have until midnight Monday, June 5 to apply for this fall's deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear and turkey controlled hunts.

    Apply now

  • new super hunt

    First Super Hunt drawing deadline is May 31

    With every entry in Fish and Game's Super Hunt drawings, hunters get a chance at winning the hunt of a lifetime, and their entry fee helps support hunter and angler access to and across private lands.

    Enter Online

Elk

Cervus canadensis

IDAPA Classification: Big Game
View Species Profile