Sixty-seven muskox (Ovibos moschatus) carcasses, 53 skeletal remains and two sick muskoxen were seen during an aerial survey of the Thomsen River region, northern Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada in late July 1986. Complete necropsies were performed on 29 muskoxen estimated to have died within the previous 3 to 5 days. Twenty were diagnosed with acute yersiniosis due to Yersinia pseudotuberculosis serotype 1B and were in excellent body condition. A diagnosis could not be made on seven animals due to marked autolysis; however, these muskoxen also were in excellent body condition. The remaining two were aged, emaciated muskoxen. This report describes the first occurrence of yersiniosis in free-ranging muskoxen and the first documentation of large scale mortality due to this disease in a free-ranging population of wild ungulates.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4