600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
September 15, 2014
Contact: WDFW Region 5, (360) 696-6211
WDFW seeks public's assistance to monitor hoof disease in elk
OLYMPIA - State wildlife managers are seeking help from hunters and the general public in monitoring the spread of hoof disease among elk in 10 counties in southwest Washington.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) asks that anyone who spots an elk with hoof deformities in the area that is limping or dead report their observations at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/. A map on that website shows the department's primary focus of interest.
Sandra Jonker, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said the department is primarily interested in receiving reports outside the primary area of infection around Cowlitz County, where the disease is already well documented.
"Our focus now is on assessing the spread of the disease to other parts of the region," Jonker said. "Gaining more information about the incidence and geographical distribution of the disease will help determine how best to manage it."
She noted that the website is designed to accept reports from the field using a mobile phone. Once filed, those reports will immediately appear on WDFW's website.
Diagnostic testing conducted over the past year indicates hoof disease in elk closely resembles a contagious bacterial infection in sheep. There is no evidence that the bacteria are harmful to humans, but there is no vaccine for elk that contract the disease, Jonker said.
To help prevent the disease from spreading, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved a new rule requiring hunters in 10 southwest Washington counties to remove the hooves of any elk they harvest and leave them on-site.