The DFW is treating it as a significant priority and will be allocating up to $388,000 in its 2014 budget to deal with the problem. The department will also be looking to hire additional staff dedicated to combating the disease.
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After taking samples from infected animals earlier this year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has finally identified the culprit behind a mysterious illness affecting elk hooves in the southwestern parts of the state and is now laying the groundwork for action against the disease.
In a meeting between the department and outside experts, DFW regional program manager Sandra Jonker outlined an ambitious plan to stop the disease (caused by Treponema bacteria, the same genus of bacteria that causes syphilis and yaws) in its tracks. The plan will enlist a number of “citizen science volunteers” to gather information on the spread of the infection, require hunters to turn in hooves from infected animals, and possibly destroying a number of elk in a buffer control zone, which has yet to be identified.
“Hoof disease on this kind of scale in a wild population we’ve never seen before,’’ Jonker told The Columbian.