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FWP Releases Latest Elk Brucellosis Test Results

Results of brucellosis surveillance from 2018 elk capture operations in the Tendoy Mountains and eastern side of the Madison Valley are being evaluated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock.

Of the 100 elk sampled in the Tendoy Mountains, one was found to have been exposed to brucellosis (seropositive). This is the first time an elk has tested positive for exposure in the Tendoys. The Tendoys are currently outside of the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), an area in which livestock brucellosis testing and traceability requirements exist.

Thirty elk in the Tendoys were outfitted with radio collars to learn more about movement patterns and understand how the disease may spread.

In the south eastern Madison Valley, an area within the DSA, six elk tested positive for exposure out of the 41 sampled there. Forty of the animals were outfitted with collars.

“The discovery of an exposed elk in the Tendoys emphasizes the importance of elk surveillance near the boundary of the DSA,” said Montana State Veterinarian Martin Zaluski, “We appreciated this partnership with FWP which helps us continue to identify livestock potentially at risk.”

The goal of brucellosis surveillance operations is to evaluate the presence and understand the movement of brucellosis in Montana’s elk populations. The research helps understanding of the overlap between elk and livestock on the landscape.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that infects cattle, bison and elk and can result in abortion or the birth of weak calves. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids.

Animals that test positive for brucellosis were exposed to the bacteria at one time and have developed antibodies that can be measured with blood tests.

More information about brucellosis and the Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance project can be found online at: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/diseasesAndResearch/healthPrograms/brucellosis/.

Montana Department of Livestock regulations can be found online at: http://liv.mt.gov.