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Elk on the loose after escaping from Derby enclosure - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Elk on the loose after escaping from Derby enclosure

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Courtesy: Gretchen Desautels Courtesy: Gretchen Desautels
DERBY, Vt -

Elk are on the loose in Derby.

"We’re asking that if people do see them to contact the Department of Agriculture and to let them know where the elk are," said Maj. George Scribner, a Vermont Fish and Wildlife game warden.

Fish and Wildlife doesn’t know exactly how many elk are on the run, but estimates about 6-12. State officials believe the animals came from the Cowtown Elk Ranch. The Agency of Agriculture says it doesn't know how the elk escaped, but that there have been compliance issues with this farm in the past, including herd inventory and ID reporting.

"If they are not ID’d then you're right, it makes it very difficult to take an existing accurate inventory and compare it to animals that are brought back into an enclosure and vague for the fact that they're all there," said Dr. Kristin Haas, a state veterinarian for the Agency of Agriculture.

The agency says there are an estimated 100-200 captive elk in Vermont. Haas tells us the sheer size of the animals can make them dangerous to people.

"Even though the elk are classified as captive elk, they're prey animals by nature," said Haas. "They have a fight or flight instinct."

The agency says another concern is chronic wasting disease, which can be transmitted between captive deer and wild animals. Fish and Wildlife says it is working with the owners of the farm to get the animals back safely.

"When we find the elk, try to do our best to herd them back to the enclosure which they came from and to also make sure the enclosures secure so they don't escape again," said Scribner.

We left multiple voicemails with the owners requesting an interview. We also went to the restaurant at the ranch, where a worker told us one of the owners was there but was too busy to speak with us.

Fish and Wildlife officials say shooting the animals would be their very last resort.

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