Unexplained Hoof Disease Spreads Quickly in Southwest Washington Elk

Sep 7, 2012

Biologists are asking for help gathering clues about a hoof disease affecting elk in southwest Washington. They say the disease is severe and spreading quickly.

The reports began in the 1990s.  Hunters spotted elk limping near Longview Washington.  The animals’ hooves were deformed or missing.  The disease has spread south toward Vancouver, west to the coast, and into the Cascade foothills.

Kristin Mansfield is a veterinarian with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mansfield has never seen a wildlife disease spread so quickly.  “It’s a huge welfare concern, these animals are obviously in extreme pain and discomfort and its just horrible to see animals suffer like this. “

Mansfield says the hoof disease affects up to 90 percent the elk in some herds. She suspects unknown bacteria could be the cause.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has created a website for members of the public to report elk with deformed feet, and upload pictures.

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