Levels of Nutritional Minerals in Free Ranging Elk Grazing on Reclaimed Stripmines
Dr. Robert Van Saun
Walter Cottrell, Carolyn M. Burns
The objectives of this study are to establish diagnostic reference values for interpreting elk hepatic trace mineral concentrations and assess copper status relative to reclaimed stripmine grazing.
The objectives of this study are to establish diagnostic reference values for interpreting elk hepatic trace mineral concentrations and assess copper status relative to reclaimed stripmine grazing. Reclaimed stripmines often have high concentrations of molybdenum, sulfur and manganese in the soils, which can compromise dietary copper availability and animal copper status. This may place grazing ruminant animals at risk for subclinical or clinical copper deficiency diseases. There is also potential for exposure to various heavy metals that may induce secondary deficiency or primary toxicity disease conditions. Concentration of 17 minerals, spanning essential and potentially toxic elements, will be measured by ICP/MS in all liver samples collected from hunter harvested elk. Population statistics will be used to establish elk hepatic mineral criteria. These data will be compared to laboratory reference values for liver minerals of other ruminants, and elk if available, to determine potential disease risk concerns. Data collected for this study will not only provide insights to the general nutritional health of the Pennsylvania elk population, but can be used to generate diagnostic information in assessing nutritional status of elk, both wild and farmed. Information gained from this study may also provide insights to potential nutritional concerns for other agricultural species that may be managed on or near reclaimed stripmines.