Pearson plan to stop elk disease receives legislative stamp of approval

Today, legislators gave the final stamp of approval for Sen. Kirk Pearson’s plan to stop the spread of hoof disease among the state’s elk herds. Senate Bill 5474 passed the House unanimously after receiving unanimous approval in the Senate.

After a vote to concur on changes made in the House, the bill only needs the governor’s signature to be signed into law.

“This bill will provide the jumpstart we need to stop and eradicate this disease among our state’s elk,” said Pearson, R-Monroe, the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. “Hoof disease is a serious problem that needs decisive action and now we have the plan in place to begin stopping it once and for all.”

Pearson’s bill shifts responsibility to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for monitoring elk herds, identifying causes for the spread of disease and creating solutions to eradicate it. It also limits translocation of diseased elk in a way that might spread the disease to more elk or to domestic animals.

Elk with disfigured hooves have been reported for years, but reports have now spread across the state to other herds and even across state lines to Oregon. Local farmers have also expressed fear that the disease may be spreading to dairy herds.