Oregon Elk Starve on Winter Wheat

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

250 elk, mostly calves, died after gorging on winter wheat southwest of Pendleton. According to The Observer, the early start and length of winter drove a herd of 3500 elk into the winter wheat earlier than normal. The elk died because they lack the enzymes to digest the winter wheat and did not diversify their diet.

The winter wheat did the young elk in because their digestive systems cannot break it down and absorb its nutrients. This means some elk actually died of starvation because they were not absorbing nutrients from the winter wheat. “They starved to death on full stomachs,’’ Kirsch said.


GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is too bad.  Hate to

That is too bad.  Hate to hear about elk staving themselves when it comes to a hard winter.  Nature does work in a weird way.  I do not know what their game and fish departemt could do you prevent it.  Hopefully the herd will remain strong and make a recovery from the loss.

numbnutz's picture

Thats a shame, 250 elk dieing

Thats a shame, 250 elk dieing with full bellies, I hunt 40 miles south of pendelton so thats gonna hurt. Over all winter hasnt been to bad over here, but it has been a late one with the snow levels still around 1000 to 2000 feet when its normaly 5000-6000 feet. hopefully they will be able to rebound and numbers will climb back up as the calf survival rates have been kinda low anyways with all the cougas and bears over there.

jaybe's picture

What a shame. It has been a

What a shame. It has been a really tough and long winter all over. The fact that these elk calves died of starvation with full stomachs reminds me of the pictures of children in 3rd world countries who are severely malnourished, but have bloated bellies.

We still have ice on lakes here in Michigan that are normally open water by this time.

Would someone please tell Al Gore that global warming is no longer a threat?