BOULDER -- Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel loaded 13 elk into a stock trailer and hauled them to an eastern Idaho facility for slaughter Tuesday morning after the animals tested positive for exposure to the contagious disease brucellosis.

Ten of the animals originated on the Scab Creek elk feedground, while the other three were from the Muddy Creek feedground.

Meat from the animals will be brought back to Wyoming for free distribution, while tissue samples are harvested for further brucellosis research.

This concludes the fifth and final year of the program aimed at reducing the brucellosis exposure rate of elk using three feedgrounds in the Pinedale herd unit. In all, just less than 200 cow elk were slaughtered during the five years after they tested positive for exposure to brucellosis.

The program began in 2006 with testing on the Muddy Creek feedground, with 171 cow elk sampled and 58 with positive exposure results. In 2007, testing was repeated at Muddy Creek again, with 79 elk tested, 13 of which tested positive.

The pilot program expanded in 2008 to include both the Muddy Creek and Fall Creek feedgrounds. A total of 154 elk were tested at Muddy, with 21 positive exposure tests, and 191 elk tested at Fall Creek, with 21 positives.

The 2009 testing program was the only year that all three feedgrounds were included. One-hundred, fourteen elk were tested at Muddy Creek, with eight testing positive for exposure. At Fall Creek, 158 cow elk were tested, with 11 positives. At Scab Creek, 149 elk were tested, with 31 positive results.

The winter of 2009-10 has been relatively mild, and elk feeding has not occurred at the Fall Creek feedground. Trapping at Muddy Creek this final year resulted in the testing of 141 elk, with seven testing positive for exposure. Trapping at Scab Creek also involved 141 elk, with 27 positives.

The program, a recommendation of the Wyoming Brucellosis Coordination Team, will now be subject to a reassessment by this group, involving both livestock and wildlife representatives and animal health and public health officials.

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