The Wyoming Game and Fish Department believes it knows what is responsible for the mass deaths of pronghorn antelope, many of which have been found deceased without signs of injury.
Over the past several weeks, the bodies of these animals have been found across Wyoming.
The deaths have all occurred in a matter of weeks, officials say. https://t.co/3c0l7BULZR
— Idaho Statesman (@IdahoStatesman) March 9, 2023
The agency said a pathogen known as Mycoplasma bovis is causing the deaths, according to Fox Weather.
They distinguished this outbreak from Mycobacterium bovids, a different pathogen which can affect domestic cattle.
“While reported M. bovis outbreaks causing mortality in wildlife are rare, this is not the first occurrence of M. bovis being linked to pronghorn mortalities in Wyoming,” WGFD disease expert Hank Edwards said of the outbreak.
The agency suspects that the disease outbreak is the cause of death for roughly 200 pronghorn found dead without an identifiable cause since mid-February alone, according to the Billings Gazette.
Ground zero of the outbreak has taken hold south of the community of Pinedale, Wyoming.
The pathogen can cause conditions such as pneumonia and arthritis in the animals.
State wildlife officials have resorted to euthanizing dying pronghorn and removing carcasses from habitats in a bid to halt the disease, according to Fox Weather.
The pathogen is not known to infect either humans or domestic household pets, according to the agency.
It can infect related ungulates, such as bison, mule deer and white-tailed deer, according to the Billings Gazette.
One of the distinctive animals of North America, pronghorn have a range that extends across the western United States, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
They’re considered the fastest land animals on the continent, running at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour to escape predators.
The #pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Tho not an antelope, it is known in North America as the American antelope, prong buck, pronghorn antelope & prairie antelope.
Also known to avoid me when I have a camera.#SundayYellow pic.twitter.com/720dXVSKrx
— NatureArt_NFTs (@azgibsonz) March 5, 2023
They’re most commonly identified by the prong-like horns on their heads.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.