JACKSON, Wyo. — Officials say elk on the eastern Wyoming refuge are distributed more widely than usual and are living off forage this winter.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the National Elk Refuge has not provided supplemental alfalfa feed as the mild winter has left plenty of natural grasses in the area.

Refuge biologist Eric Cole says no calves have been found dead on the refuge, and the death rates this year are among the lowest in decades.

About 50 adult elk have been found dead, but nearly all were infected with scabies, a disease that can leave the animals vulnerable to hypothermia.

The harsher winter last year resulted in the deaths of 310 elk, including 210 calves.

Cole says temperatures have been well above average, leaving unlimited access to forage.

Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com

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