Oregon Elk Starve on Winter Wheat
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.