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Video of hobbling elk herd confirms hoof rot

WILDLIFE -- A sportsman's recent heartbreaking video of elk hobbling painfully on sore hooves is bringing more attention to problems with hoof rot in the Mount St. Helens herd.

KING 5 TV recently aired footage compiled by West Side sportsman Bill Jones, who's hunted the region most of his life.

"My hands were shaking so bad I could hardly hold the camera,” said Jones, who said he was nearly brought to tears by the sight and he scouted the mountains recently with his video camera along. “Everyone I saw had it.”

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials have been looking into the disease for years. They say they've been seeking help internationally. But even if they found a cure, treating a herd in the dense mountains would be virtually impossible.

Anyone who sees the footage at least can join the hope that something eventually can be done for elk, young and old, that limp around in pain as though they're walking on fire.

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Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.