Monthly Archives: November 2019

Exploring a Potential Root Cause of Elk Hoof Disease

Originally Published by Columbia Insight

A mysterious hoof disease has been decimating elk herds in southwest Washington for more than a decade. As the disease spreads into eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho, Washington State University (WSU) prepares to open a $1.2 million research center devoted to studying how the disease is caused and transmitted.

After a long and controversial investigation, researchers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) associated hoof disease with bacteria known as treponemes. However, a vocal coalition of hunters, conservationists and concerned citizens have come to believe that the root cause is a toxic brew of chemicals routinely sprayed by industrial timber companies.

As WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine takes the reins of this high-stakes investigation, will researchers finally study the public’s longstanding hypothesis? Or will more delays and inaction continue to fuel accusations that powerful timber and chemical interests have overwhelmed the possibility of an honest investigation into the true cause of elk hoof disease?

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