Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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There were 14 questions found in this category:

  1. What causes Elk Hoof Disease?
    Evidence to date points to a type of infectious bacteria (Treponema sp.) associated with hoof disease in domestic sheep and cattle. It is likely that these bacteria persist in moist soil. Additional testing is being done to further understand the cause. There is no scientific evidence that herbi ...
  2. Where in the state does Elk Hoof Disease occur?
    WDFW has received sporadic reports from observers in the Cowlitz River Basin of southwest Washington since the mid-1990s. Since 2008, reports have increased and spread west to Pacific County, north to Lewis County and south to Clark County. Due to the rapid increase in observations since 2008, ...
  3. How is the Elk Hoof Disease transmitted?
    Scientists do not know for certain how the disease is transmitted. However, they believe infected animals may carry the bacteria to new areas on their hooves, where the bacteria survive in moist soil until infecting the hooves of other animals.
  4. Is there any treatment for Elk Hoof Disease?
    Once the disease is present in an elk herd, it is very difficult to eradicate it and the challenge becomes how to minimize its effect. Similar diseases in domestic animals are treated by moving the animal to a clean dry area, aggressively cleaning and paring out the infected part of the hoof, a ...
  5. Can we give the elk antibiotic injections or medicated feed?
    It’s important to recognize that there is no vaccine for this type of bacterial disease, either for livestock or for wildlife. The livestock industry has been looking for a way to prevent their animals from contracting the disease for more than 20 years without success. Some livestock prod ...
  6. Would using mineral blocks or supplemental feed help?
    Good nutrition and trace minerals such as copper, selenium, and zinc are known to be good for domestic animals, but they would not likely prevent or cure hoof disease in elk. Further, providing mineral blocks or supplemental feed could cause elk to congregate at higher densities, promoting cond ...
  7. Is the disease contagious to other animals or humans?
    We do not know whether elk hoof disease can be transmitted to domestic animals. Veterinarians from southwest Washington say they have not seen increases in diseases in domestic animals that might be associated with hoof disease in elk. There is no reason to believe that elk hoof disease is con ...
  8. Is Elk Hoof Disease contagious to humans?
    There is no reason to believe that elk hoof disease is contagious to humans. Similar diseases in livestock do not affect humans. Hundreds of elk have been harvested in SW Washington since the disease first appeared in 2008, and WDFW is not aware of any cases of human disease that have been asso ...
  9. Is the meat from affected elk safe to eat?
    Microscopic examination of tissues, including meat, from elk affected by hoof disease has not revealed evidence of infection, inflammation, or any other indication that the meat is unsuitable for human consumption. In all animals inspected to date, the disease has been limited to the hooves, an ...
  10. Can I get a new tag if I harvest an animal with hoof disease?
    No. Since all evidence to date indicates that the meat of elk with hoof disease is not affected by the condition, WDFW will not provide replacement tags.
  11. How can hunters and other members of the public help?
    Hunters can help WDFW track elk hoof disease by reporting observations of affected and unaffected elk on the department’s online reporting form. If you hike or drive off-road in the known affected area, you can help minimize the risk of spreading the disease to new areas by thoroughly ...
  12. What should I do if I harvest an elk with hoof disease?
    In every case examined to date, the meat from animals affected by hoof disease has been normal and is most likely safe to consume (see “Is the meat from affected elk safe to eat?”). If you harvest an elk with hoof disease, remove the feet and field dress the animal as you normally ...
  13. What is WDFW doing about Elk Hoof Disease?
    WDFW veterinary and biological staff have undertaken an exhaustive diagnostic effort to determine the cause of this disease, as summarized in a detailed poster and slide presentation. These efforts have allowed us to rule out a number of potential causes of elk hoof disease, and to narrow down ...
  14. Are herbicides a likely cause of hoof disease?
    There is no scientific evidence that chemicals can cause this kind of disease in animals, and no link has been made between herbicides and hoof disease in any species that we are aware of. Timber companies use similar herbicide treatments along the West Coast, yet elk populations in other areas ...