GRAIN OVERLOAD AND SECONDARY EFFECTS AS POTENTIAL MORTALITY FACTORS OF MOOSE IN NORTH DAKOTA

Erika A Butler, William F Jensen, Roger E Johnson, Jason M Scott

Abstract


The intent of this article is to alert biologists of a potential mortality factor of moose in agricultural areas. It has long been recognized that ruminants switching from a natural diet of browse (a cellulose-based diet) to one of more readily digestible carbohydrates (a starch-based diet), such as corn and wheat, are predisposed to developing conditions such as enterotoxemia, polioencephalomalacia, acute rumenitis, liver abscesses, laminitis, and to sudden death. These are often secondary to grain overload (acute acidosis) and are frequently documented in cattle and sheep which are moved from pasture to feedlot. Necropsies of 4 moose in North Dakota were not entirely conclusive, but suggested that grain overload occurred and was a cause of mortality. Necropsy findings that supported grain overload as a contributing factor to death included acute rumenitis, isolation of Clostridium perfringens coupled with hemorrhagic enteritis, chronic laminitis, and polioencephalomalacia. Four likely scenarios exist in which grain overload occurs in North Dakota moose including consumption of planted crops such as corn and wheat, access to bait piles mainly intended for deer, access to cattle feeding sites, and access to recreational feeding sites. These findings have important implications for the regulation of baiting and recreational feeding practices in North Dakota and elsewhere in moose range of similar situation.

Keywords


Agriculture; Alces alces; feeding; grain overload; moose; mortality; rumenitis

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