Interesting case, sounds like all involved have been doing some great forensic/research work.
However I find it odd that the elk were ingesting the lichen in the first place considering that it is in the soil. Perhaps a long dry winter was driving them to eat stuff they normally don't in high quantities.
It is good to know it is something common causing the issue. Speculation was running wild that it was human poisoning, some new form of cwd, a new diesease, alien abuduction, etc.... I had even read people theorizing that the elk in true lemming style had just "run themselves to death".
First of all, if you haven't gone winter backpacking, it needs to happen in the near future. It puts a very unique twist on the summer version of the activity. Yes, it's cold but it's nothing that being prepared can't remedy. Beyond it's therapeutic and recreational value, I think it is a very good tool for the big game hunter as well. I don't think that you can spend too much time getting to know the ins and outs of the area that you hunt. And there is no better way to gain experience in...