Commission to receive update on efforts to monitor elk hoof disease

The ongoing discussion on what to do with hoof disease in elk will be on the agenda when the state Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday and Saturday in Olympia.

The department is working this year to determine how widespread the disease is among the St. Helens and Willapa Hills elk herds. Since 2008, the agency has received increasing reports of elk with misshapen hooves in Cowlitz, Pacific, Lewis, Clark, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties. The disease most likely involves a type of bacterial infection, according to state officials.

This winter, wildlife biologists are planning to capture and fit elk with radio-collars to determine how the disease is affecting area elk populations, survival rates and calving. Wildlife managers also will likely kill elk showing severe symptoms of the disease to end their suffering.

Dr. Sandra Jonker, Region 5 wildlife program manager, and Dr. Kristin Mansfield, wildlife veterinarian, are scheduled to give the commission an update on diagnostic findings . They also will provide an assessment of those findings made by the department’s elk hoof disease technical advisory group.

After that discussion, the commission will consider a proposed regulation that would require hunters to leave on site any elk hooves taken in the affected area.

The discussion is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.