Senate unanimously approves Pearson plan to stop elk hoof disease

Today, the Senate unanimously passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, to jumpstart the effort to contain and eradicate elk hoof disease. Pearson introduced the bill after a limited response to the disease from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Hoof disease is a very serious concern for the future of the state’s elk herds and this bill gets us started on a real solution,” said Pearson, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. “Despite the alarming spread of this disease, I still had WDFW managers telling me that sometimes wild animals just die, as though this wasn’t a big problem. We can’t wait any longer for them to understand how important it is that we stop and eradicate this disease.”

Pearson’s bill, Senate Bill 5474, 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. Local farms have expressed concerns about hoof disease spreading to dairy herds with some reporting cases of hoof disease among their cattle.

The bill now passes to the House for consideration.