Budget committee approves Pearson measure to jumpstart diseased wildlife response

An uncured disease affecting elk herds has been spreading across the state and into Oregon without a committed response from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Today, the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, to jumpstart the response to contain and eradicate elk hoof disease.

“The lack of urgency to act by our wildlife managers when there’s clear evidence of a spreading disease is disappointing,” said Pearson, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. “This is not a new problem and we can’t wait any longer to get it under control. The health of our state’s elk herds is in danger without a serious commitment to solving the problem.”

Pearson’s bill, Senate Bill 5474, puts limits on any attempt to move diseased elk in a way that might spread the disease further. It also shifts authority to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for identifying causes and creating solutions to eradicate the disease.

“Not enough has been done to carefully manage the state’s elk herds,” said Pearson. “This bill will get us moving toward a real solution to this disease so we can stop this problem once and for all.”

The bill is now ready to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote to pass it to the House for consideration.