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Harsh Winter Takes Toll on Northern Rockies Wildlife May 6, 2011
Elk Refuge
More elk have crowded into Wyoming's National Elk Refuge because of poor feeding conditions elsewhere.
A brutal and extended winter season across the northern Rocky Mountains has resulted in a record number of big-game animals perishing from malnutrition and stress, according to wildlife officials.

“Elk, deer and moose — those animals are having a pretty tough time,” Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Doug Brimeyer told Reuters.

High mortality rates have been observed in the populations of young mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope.

Officials estimate that tens of thousands of the big-game animals have died across thousands of square miles, from the prairie of northeastern Montana, southward into Idaho and Wyoming.

Observers at the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyoming, say many thousands more elk than usual have been crowding into the reserve in a desperate bid to survive.

Photo: Dept. of the Interior