On February 12th, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials concluded their most recent Hoof Disease Public Working Group Meeting with a sadly familiar message – they still did not know what was causing the crippling hoof disease that some have estimated is now responsible for half of all elk deaths in southwest Washington.
I was at the meeting as a hunter, a conservationist and a writer, and I was still bitter about my family’s bleak, unsuccessful hunting season that past fall. I was searching for answers and so far there weren’t any.
Before the meeting was adjourned, however, members of the public were allowed a chance to speak for three minutes each. First up was Boone Mora, a Doctor of Public Health from Skamokawa, Washington. Articulate and spry for his age, Dr. Mora stood and addressed the group.
Since I have so little time I’ll tell you I think I know what causes the disease. I think I know how to cure the disease, and I think I know how to prevent the disease. I spent ten years studying this disease. I was a guest researcher at the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta and I did a dissertation in this. I can tell you leptospirosis fits it better than anything else I can imagine. And leptospirosis hasn’t been investigated, certainly not exhausted. And I would like to do that. It won’t cost you anything. I’ll do it for nothing. The symptoms of this disease are as broad as symptoms go. This is why they are not diagnosed. People die from it.
And so began my plunge down the rabbit hole.