Mixed Bag

Hayward, Wis. The DNR elk team has been busy locating and
collaring elk calves in Ashland and Sawyer counties, and the
calving season is now winding down. With the help of volunteers
from UW-Stevens Point, the elk project staff had its highest
success in capturing calves, with 14 calves found and 12 calves
collared. The previous record was in 1999 with 11 calves
captured.

Though a few cows might still have calves, most calves already
can keep up with the herd. The cows and calves have rejoined
“nursery groups,” according to DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell.
Calving was early this year, beginning on May 17. The last newborn
calf was collared on June 4. Stowell said improving sex and age
structure in the Clam Lake elk herd has resulted in earlier and
shorter calving seasons that benefit the elk by reducing risk of
predation from black bears and wolves.

“This year was unique. In addition to the calving season being
earlier and shorter, this calving season was cool and moist, with
relatively few biting insects. Calves were observed to be feisty’
and precocious.’ The average birth weights were slightly higher
than normal,” Stowell said.

With the moister conditions in 2004, elk team members are
concerned that parasitic diseases carried by land snails and slugs,
such as brain worm and liver flukes, may increase. Calf survival
information and continued monitoring allows biologists to measure
the growth of the elk herd and learn more about Wisconsin elk.

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