Hoof Rot
Photo courtesy of Mark Smith

State wildlife officials will host a public meeting in Ridgefield Tuesday to update the public about efforts to deal with elk hoof rot disease.

The Elk Hoof Disease Public Working Group will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Region 5 headquarters. It is located at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield.

The meeting will feature discussions about the potential cause of hoof rot; WDFW’s partnership with Washington State University, which has received public money to research the disease; and next steps to take against hoof rot.

The Working Group includes Cowlitz County Commissioner Joe Gardner, Wahkiakum County Commissioner Daniel Cothren and Eco Park Resort owner Mark Smith, as well as representatives from Weyerhaeuser Co., WSU, the state Department of Health, and the Puyallup Indian Tribe.

According to Smith, this is the first state meeting in almost two years regarding elk hoof disease, and WSU will briefly review its work on hoof rot.

A new state law, passed July 21, directs the university to work with Fish and Wildlife to research the disease. The new state budget earmarked $1.5 million for that purpose, according to the Skagit Valley Herald.

This meeting comes not long after WDFW asked elk hunters to remove hooves of the elk that they shoot and leave them in the field, in an attempt to reduce hoof rot’s spread, according to a WDFW press release.

The cause of hoof rot is still disputed. Researchers from WSU and representatives from Fish and Wildlife believe that pesticides and herbicides aren’t a factor. However, local sportsmen have said foreign chemicals might be the culprit.

“Ninety percent of all the chemicals that (Weyerhaeuser) uses say ‘don’t use on grazing land,’ ” Smith said in May. “I have been asking the question for quite a while now, why do we allow forest land to be sprayed ... when deer and other wildlife graze in these areas?”

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