More than 300 bison die from anthrax in Canada

Wildlife officials in Canada's Northwest Territories said that a recent anthrax outbreak among bison is the largest they have ever seen.

At least 340 bison are believed to have died from the disease, prompting wildlife officials to call for help in disposing of the large number of infected carcasses, according to

The Canadian Department of Environment and Natural Resources is moving staff to the Northwest Territories from other regions to help, and emergency firefighters were recently hired from Fort Providence.

Terry Armstrong, an ENR wildlife biologist, is asking the local population to notify the department if they come across dead bison in the area.

"The focus right now is to finish the disposal of all carcasses that we find and to make sure those sites are decontaminated as best we can," Armstrong said, reports. "What causes an outbreak and what causes it to taper off or end is not well understood, but it seems cooler weather and rain tend to help."

A large anthrax outbreak among bison occurred in 1994, infecting approximately 172 animals. Anthrax bacteria are found naturally in soil. During and after prolonged dry periods, bison are more likely to inhale anthrax spores and acquire the infection.