Cook County officials unsure what killed elk at preserve


ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — The Cook County Forest Preserve District is uncertain how half of its elk herd at a preserve died last year.

General Superintendent Arnold Randall said forest preserve officials investigated Busse Woods and still don’t know what caused the deaths, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Employees noted in September 2017 that they hadn’t spotted six elk that roamed there. Officials later discovered three dead, possibly from dehydration, according to records.

Disciplinary records show one worker was suspended for 29 days but challenged the punishment and had it reduced to eight days. Another accused of being negligent was given a written reprimand. Two others weren’t disciplined.

District officials plan to bring more elk from Texas this fall. But Cook County Commissioner Timothy Schneider said he doesn’t believe the district should bring in the animals until officials can definitively explain why half the herd died.

Schneider said he’s displeased with the forest preserve’s handling of the elk deaths. He said the discipline meted out wasn’t enough.

“Individuals are prosecuted for leaving their dogs in cars in hot weather. How could a forest preserve employee receive only an eight-day suspension for being responsible for the death of three beautiful elk, who relied on him for their care?” Schneider said, adding that elk are “majestic animals” that “should be protected at all costs.”

The district has kept a small elk herd at Busse Woods since 1925.

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