Outdoors blog

Elk hoof disease on Washington wildlife panel agenda

The four deformed hooves of one elk with hoof disease are shown in this lab photo by researchers studying the disease plaguing elk in southwest Washington.
The four deformed hooves of one elk with hoof disease are shown in this lab photo by researchers studying the disease plaguing elk in southwest Washington.

WILDLIFE -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting 2014-15 hunting seasons for migratory waterfowl and discuss a disease that affects the hooves of elk in the southwest portion of the state during a public meeting that starts today and runs through Saturday in Olympia.

Also on the meeting agenda is a proposed regulation that would require hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected areas of southwest Washington on site to help minimize the spread of the disease.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days.

State waterfowl seasons proposed by WDFW are similar to those adopted last year. The general duck season would be open for 107 days – from Oct. 11-15 and from Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend is also proposed for Sept. 20-21.

As in previous years, goose hunting seasons would vary by management areas across the state, but most would open in mid-October and run through late January.

In other business, the commission will receive a briefing on a scientific panel’s determination that a disease that leaves elk in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills areas with misshapen hooves most likely involves a type of bacterial infection.

Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep. The panel's diagnosis is consistent with the findings of the USDA National Animal Disease Center and four other independent diagnostic laboratories that have tested samples of elk hooves submitted by WDFW since last year.

For more information on elk hoof disease, see WDFW’s wildlife health webpage.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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