Elk hoof disease discovered in Walla Walla County
WALLA WALLA COUNTY, Wash. — An elk shot by a hunter in Walla Walla County has tested positive for elk hoof disease, which causes severe hoof deformities that can threaten the animal’s survival.
A muzzleloader hunter shot the cow elk on Jan. 17 in the Pikes Peak area of the Blue Mountains. After noticing the elk’s hooves were deformed, he brought them to the Washington Department of Fish and Widllife for examination.
Samples were submitted to Washington State University’s animal disease diagnostic laboratory where tests confirmed the disease in the elk.
First docmented in the early 2000s, elk hoof disease has been found in 14 Washington counties. It has also been found in Oregon and Idaho.
Last April, WDFW confirmed the presence of the disease in Klickitat County – the first such finding in Washington state east of the Cascade Range.
The disease causes hoof deformities that can make an elk walk with a pronounced limp. Elk may eventually slough the infected hooves, threatening their survival.
There is no vaccine to prevent elk hoof disease, known scientifically as treponeme-associated hoof disease (TAHD). There is no evidence the disease affects humans.
Kyle Garrison, WDFW hoof disease coordinator, said the department plans to increase efforts to identify other diseased elk in the Blue Mountains, and will look for limping elk early next month during scheduled aerial surveys.