Elk hoof disease, an emerging disease of wild elk that causes abnormal hooves and lameness, has been detected in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.
There is currently no way to treat the disease in wild elk, so as with most diseases in wildlife, prevention of spread is a key to management. Future management will be developed based on studies that are currently underway to better understand disease causes and the impact on elk survival.
WSU has been leading the effort to identify the cause of elk hoof disease and to provide critical information to wildlife agencies to better manage the disease in the wild. The research is part of ongoing programs studying emerging and existing infectious diseases where wildlife and domestic animals may affect one another.
Outreach and education
Raising public awareness and informing the public about the disease and its potential impacts is an important part of our work. We will continue and expand our interactions with citizens, professional groups, and policy makers. We will listen to concerns and input on studies and will share our research findings.
Elk hoof news
Elk hoof in the news
- Study finds elk hoof disease may affect antlers The Spokesman-Review
- A century of feeding iconic wild elk now threatens their existence The Seattle Times
- Transmissible Treponemes: Studying Elk Hoof Disease Using a Captive Herd with Dr. Margaret Wild Wildlife Heath Connections – Podcast
With the strong support of a group of concerned citizens, the Washington state legislature passed SB 5474 in 2017. The legislation provides state funding to address elk hoof disease and assigned WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine as the state lead to monitor and assess causes of and potential solutions for elk hoof disease. WSU hired Dr. Margaret Wild, who has spent her career investigating diseases in elk, to lead the effort.