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No Brucellosis Exposure Found In Bangtail Mountains Elk

A bull elk searches for food beneath the snow in Yellowstone National Park in February 2020.
Jacob W. Frank/YNP (Public Domain)
A bull elk searches for food beneath the snow in Yellowstone National Park in February 2020.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced Monday that an elk herd in the Bangtail Mountains has tested negative for brucellosis. State wildlife managers recently completed the two-year project aimed at understanding the risk and spread of the disease in wildlife and livestock.

FWP says 100 samples taken from elk in the Bangtails in 2019 and 2020 have tested negative for exposure to brucellosis. The bacterial disease can spread between elk, bison and cattle and cause female animals to abort their fetuses or give birth to weak calves. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids.

FWP worked on the Bangtail herd study with the Montana Department of Livestock as part of Montana’s Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project.

Elk were also sampled this year in the Ruby Mountains. The two agencies announced in February that two of the 100 elk sampled there had been exposed to brucellosis. The Ruby Mountains are currently outside but near the boundary of the Designated Surveillance Area

The surveillance project includes capturing, sampling and collaring elk populations near the Department of Livestock’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) in southwest Montana. The project started in 2011 monitors the presence of brucellosis in elk and herd migration patterns. This information can help both agencies make management decisions to decrease the risk of brucellosis spreading from wildlife to livestock.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Rachel is a UM grad working in the MTPR news department.
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