Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Hikers in Oregon's Cascade Mountains discovered 19 dead elk after melting snows revealed their carcasses, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week.
The ODFW said the elk appear to have been caught in an avalanche sometime after Spring 2016, and had been covered in snow since then.
"It was evident their bodies had suffered a lot of trauma in the avalanche, including broken limbs, antlers and torn up hides," the ODFW said in a statement, adding that the elk were otherwise "perfectly preserved."
Wildlife biologist Jamie Bowles told The Bulletin it's rare for elk to get caught in avalanches based on what scientists know, but it could be more common in remote areas not studied closely.
"It could be more common than we know," she said.
Officials do not plan to remove the carcasses because the area is unstable and doing so would pose unnecessary risks to workers, Bowles said.