Elk NetworkMontana Project Assists with Brucellosis Surveillance

Conservation | September 15, 2020

Below is a Facebook post from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It highlights the ongoing Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project, funded in part by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project has been capturing and collaring elk around southwest Montana since 2011. During capture, blood is collected and tested for exposure to brucellosis. Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Brucella abortus that infects cattle, bison, and elk. Watch video of the capture process here.

The potential for elk to transmit the disease to livestock results in decreased acceptance of elk on private property which, in many areas, constitutes a large proportion of elk winter range. In addition to disease screening, some of the captured elk get a radio collar that records their locations for a year. This allows biologists to identify seasonal ranges and migration corridors that can serve as potential routes for disease spread between elk herds. Also, knowing if a herd has been exposed to brucellosis and how close they are to livestock helps managers identify risky areas that need mitigation.

The project also tracked collared elk until they gave birth to see if birth sites were a source of brucellosis infections.

Go here to see details about the research.

(Photo source: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)