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 DiseaseAbscesses 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.
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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 DiseaseThere 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..
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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 DiseaseCarotid 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.
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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 in the US, several Canadian 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 DiseaseAnimals 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 DiseaseAnimals 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.
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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 DiseaseThe 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.
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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 DiseaseIn 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.
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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 DiseaseClinical 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.
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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 DiseaseCystercerci 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 DiseaseWinter 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.
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After having a number of milder winters in a row, this year’s winter seems harsh, even though it is pretty typical for what used to be considered a normal winter.
In two separate events, a total of eight elk were found dead in the Salmon Region after apparent poisoning from eating Japanese yew, a common yet toxic landscaping shrub.
“Three elk were reported by a sportsman near North Fork and five elk were found on and adjacent to the golf course in Challis” said Greg Painter, Fish and Game wildlife manager.
It’s been more than a week since we had significant snowfall across the region, but snow levels remain fairly static and crusted in most areas due to cold daytime temperatures. It appears we might get a little relief from the cold later this week. Let’s all hope so.
Winter feeding efforts have ramped up considerably in the last few days, with feed sites scattered across the (mostly) southern portion of the region. Here’s a rundown of the latest winter feeding efforts.
This winter’s cold temperatures and deep snow at low elevations has prompted Idaho Fish and Game to implement emergency big game feeding at nearly 110 locations across southern and eastern Idaho.
When winter pushes elk and deer down into the valleys, hay stacks and farm fields are tempting targets for an easy meal. Idaho Fish and Game works closely with landowners to protect hay stacks and livestock. The following video explores some of the tools Fish and Game use to encourage wildlife to move on.
The Southwest Region has a long history of big game winter feeding efforts. The Winter Feeding Advisory Committee, made up of several citizen volunteers, continues to meet and review current winter conditions and evaluate needs to declare more winter feeding emergencies based on factors outlined in Fish and Game rule and policy as per IC36-123. The last emergency winter feeding operation was conducted in the winter of 2007/2008, when elk and deer were fed because of severe winter weather conditions in Garden Valley and the Lowman area.
After several mild winters in a row, this year’s winter above average precipitation and colder temperatures has felt a lot harsher for both people and wildlife. But while people can retreat to the warm comfort of a home, big game face the brunt of winter out in the elements as they have done for eons. As snowpacks build and frigid temperatures persist, Idaho Fish and Game starts fielding questions from concerned citizens about winter feeding of deer and elk.
Fish and Game recognizes that herding deer and elk with a helicopter seems to contradict its public message about the importance of leaving wildlife alone during winter.
This article was written by Fish and Game Regional Wildlife Manager Wayne Wakkinen, stationed at the regional office in Coeur d'Alene. It offers additional insights into the winter feeding issue.
As the snow piles up, we get reports from the public that deer and elk have come down from the mountains and are looking hungry. Some think feeding deer and elk will help the animals survive the rough winter months. They don’t understand why Fish and Game is reluctant to start a feeding program. But there are good reasons to be cautious about feeding wildlife.
Winter feeding efforts began, on a small scale, in the Garden Valley area on Sunday, January 22. Three historic feed sites were plowed out and feed bunks set up and loaded with specially formulated deer “pellets.” Two more sites were set up today, with several others coming on line tomorrow. At least eight feed sites – possibly more - will be up and running by week’s end along the S. Fork Payette River corridor between Garden Valley and Lowman. These areas are closed to public entry; please honor this closure.