Although not as bad as several years ago, 48 elk have died from eating a deadly lichen that grows in the Red Rim area near Rawlins.

Deadly lichen killing southern Wyoming elk. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star-Tribune

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Deadly lichen killing southern Wyoming elk

  1. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    One of the as yet unreported factors in these lichen deaths of elk near Rawlins is that the range is cowburnt and the elk are starving; it is the lack of normal winter forage that is driving these elk to eat lichen. The Wyoming Game & Fish Department has been attempting to work with the BLM to keep enough forage around for elk, but local ranchers have been pressuring the BLM to ensure that every possible AUM is allocated to cattle. It is this conflict that led to the recent bill in the Wyoming Legislature, which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, that would have prevented G&F from holding federal grazing leases to dedicate the forage to wildlife. The bill failed on introduction, but the conflict isn’t over. And wildlife continue to suffer from livestock overgrazing.

  2. You know there is a new not-for-profit source of Wyoming news. I have it on my blogroll, but I don’t know how many people look it that.

    I’m quite impressed. It’s wyomingfile.com. Some of the major reporters in the state write for it. It don’t know if they have covered the deadly lichen issue or the sideboard you provided, Robert; but it seems like the thing they would cover.

  3. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    I’m working on getting the press to investigate the overgrazing angle. G&F is denying it, as the above story indicates. But then, G&F has long since stopped saying things in public that might offend ranchers or the Stockgrowers.

  4. avatar montucky says:

    The other day I found an interesting comment on a US Forest Service web site that mentioned the elk deaths in 2004. It is here: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/interesting/lichens/didyouknow.shtml

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