Elk hoof disease found in Yakima County

Elk Hoof Disease
Courtesy: WDFW

A crippling disease has been discovered in an elk herd in Yakima County, state officials said Monday.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports samples from a juvenile elk in the Yakima herd were tested; results confirmed the presence of elk hoof disease.

The disease, known scientifically as treponeme-associated hoof disease (TAHD), can cause hoof deformities leading to hooves sloughing off and even death.

This is the first confirmed case of the disease in the Yakima herd, WDFW reported.

“For many years, we’ve been surveying for hoof disease in the Yakima area, but we have never had a case of a limping or lame elk associated with hoof disease,” Kyle Garrison, WDFW ungulate specialist, said in a news release. “The case, confirmed by Washington State University, was an early grade lesion and probably wouldn’t have affected the animal’s gait initially.”

WSU College of Veterinary Medicine staff captured the infected elk from central Washington feeding sites to support WSU’s elk hoof disease research facility.

RELATED: Elk hoof disease discovered in Walla Walla County

RELATED: Crippling elk hoof disease found in Eastern Washington

In eastern Washington – where the disease has been confirmed in the Blue Mountains and recently the Yakima elk herd – less than 1% of hunters report hoof abnormalities.

In western Washington, about 12% of successful hunters reported abnormal hooves on their harvest. Hoof disease has been found in 17 Washington counties. California, Idaho, and Oregon have also reported cases.

Scientists suspect wet or moist environmental conditions and an elk’s individual condition contribute to the disease.

There is no evidence that the disease affects humans.

“We’re going to increase our surveillance, continue our cooperation with WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and we’re also asking eastern Washington hunters and recreationists to keep an eye out for limping elk or elk with hoof deformities,” said Garrison.

If you see an elk that may have the disease, report it to WDFW here.