Elk bounce back after stillborn calf mystery

South Sweden's elk are birthing healthy calves this season, much to the delight of wildlife experts who were devastated last year as calf after calf was stillborn or died shortly after birth.

Elk bounce back after stillborn calf mystery
A newborn calf. File photo: Anders Lindgren/Flickr

Researchers at Sweden's Agricultural College (Lantbruksuniversitet) have been keeping tabs on 20 elk in the forests near Växjö. The first calf arrived in early May, and many more have since followed. 

Of the 20 elk, which wear bright-yellow GPS devices around their necks, twelve have birthed so far – seven producing twin calves.

"It looks very good so far. No stillborn calves or calves that died soon after birth like last year, which felt very tough," Anders Hågeryd, head field researcher, told the local Smålandsposten newspaper. 

Last year his team, which has followed the elk population for several years, found seven dead calves in the woods. The weather could have been partly to blame, he said.

"It was a good summer for humans, but a bad summer for elks," he noted. "It was dry in the spring and dry in summer." 

One of this year's new-born calves gave him another cause for joy.

"It was a bull calf that weighed 18.8 kg. That's a record, at least under our six years."

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