New research published in Ecology and Evolution indicates that the wildlife bacterial disease Brucellosis has more of an effect on cow elk than previously thought.
“We found that the disease causes a substantial decline in the probability of pregnancy among young adult elk and the effect is weaker in older animals, but it’s still unclear what the mechanism is that’s causing this to happen,” Johan du Toit, Utah State University researcher, told Phys.org.
Previous research focused on reduced pregnancy rates due to nutritional deficiencies and the fear of wolves. Scientists analyzed information gathered over the previous two decades at Wyoming’s supplemental feed grounds as well as mid-winter health data. They say their findings do not indicate a major red flag.
“Elk numbers in most of the region are high, and we don’t expect that to change because of brucellosis,” Gavin Cotterill, Utah State University lead researcher, told Phys.org. “It’s one more factor that researchers and managers need to keep in mind moving forward.”
(Photo source: Hasley Photography)