Liver samples from 245 wild red deer (Cervus elaphus) collected during the licensed hunting season in 2001 from five different locations in western Norway were analyzed for copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), and selenium (Se). The associations between these trace elements and geographical location, age group, and sex were studied. The median (and range of) liver concentrations (μg/g wet weight) for all the examined deer were: Cu 20 (1.7–103), Co 0.08 (<0.01–0.18), and Se 0.09 (0.04–1.0). The results indicate a generally low status of Cu and Se. In total, 15 (6%) red deer had deficient Cu levels (<4 μg/g). For all three elements, the liver concentrations showed a significant geographic variation. The geographic difference was most distinct for Cu. The lowest median Cu concentration was found in deer from the island Hitra, where 13% of the animals had deficient Cu levels. Significant differences between age groups were found for all elements, and generally, the adults (≥2.5 yr) had the highest levels. No significant sex differences within the various age groups were found, with three exceptions: female calves and adults had significantly higher Co levels than male deer, and adult males had significantly higher Se levels than adult females. The Cu and Se status of wild red deer in parts of Norway is low; however, the significance of this needs to be explored further.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3