Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology
Elk Hoof Disease
WSU leads the state in monitoring and assessing the causes of the disease.

Elk Hoof Disease

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.

The research is part of ongoing programs at WSU studying emerging and existing infectious diseases where wildlife and domestic animals may affect one another.

Frequently asked questions

What if I see a limping elk?

Follow state wildlife regulations to report a limping elk.

  • Washington – Visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to report and for regulations requiring hooves of elk harvested in affected areas to be left onsite.
  • Oregon – Online reporting system for suspected cases of elk hoof disease.
  • Idaho – General wildlife disease online reporting system.

For all other states, contact your state’s department of fish and wildlife.

What if I suspect disease in privately-owned farmed elk?

If you suspect the disease in privately-owned farmed elk, work with your veterinarian to submit samples to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at WSU.

Where can I have hooves tested from a harvested elk?

If you would like to have hooves from a harvested elk tested, submit samples to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at WSU

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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.


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