Regional
3:29 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

NM Biologists Point To Toxic Algae For Elk Deaths

New Mexico wildlife officials say the deaths of more than 100 elk in northeastern New Mexico were likely caused by a toxic algae bloom.

Biologists with the state Game and Fish Department collected tissue samples from the dead elk and water samples from private land north of Las Vegas where the animals were found in late August.

A water sample revealed a form of naturally occurring blue-green algae capable of producing a neurotoxin that can cause illness and death within hours if ingested.

The department's wildlife disease specialist, Kerry Mower, says the elk likely drank water from a trough containing toxins created by the algae.

Department biologists say the elk showed signs of having struggled on the ground, symptoms consistent with poisoning from a neurotoxin.

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