Elk Hoof Disease

  • ElkHerd
  • ElkHerd

Elk Hoof Disease


Elk Hoof Disease is an emerging infectious disease of wild elk populations in the Pacific Northwest. The number of elk with deformed, broken, or missing hooves has increased dramatically in this region in the past decade.

Although elk hoof disease is very likely caused by a combination of many factors, the disease is strongly associated with Treponeme bacteria. This same spiral-shaped bacteria is known to cause a similar disease called digital dermatitis in cattle, sheep and goats.

In 2017, the Washington State Legislature fully funded ($3 million) and mandated Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine as the state lead in developing a program to monitor and assess causes of and potential solutions for elk hoof disease. The new program will be incorporated into ongoing programs studying emerging and existing infectious diseases of wildlife occurring where wildlife and domestic animals may affect one another. The university expects to investigate ecological systems that influence the risk of emerging diseases occurring in wildlife, domestic animals, and humans

For Media Inquiries and more information

Charlie Powell
509-335-7073 (phone)


WSU Elk Hoof Disease Research Candidate Speaks at SPCC March 29

Mar 26, 2018
Washington State University is bringing the third of five candidates for a new position as elk hoof disease research leader to Olympia for a public presentation on Thursday, Mar. 29.

CONTACT: Charlie Powell, 509-335-7073 or charlie_powell@wsu.edu

Elk in Field
Image: Artist's concept of Global Animal Health Phase 2 facilities.

Washington State University is bringing the third of five candidates for a new position as elk hoof disease research leader to Olympia for a public presentation on Thursday, Mar. 29.

The presentation is set for 9 a.m. in the South Puget Sound Community College Lecture Hall, Room 105, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW, in Olympia.  The Lecture Hall building is designated as #26 on the SPSCC Olympia Campus map that shows limited parking availability.  

The map is available at https://spscc.edu/sites/default/files/imce/about/maps/SPSCC-Campus-Map.pdf .

The candidate, David S. Miller, is currently a contract wildlife veterinarian, the principle veterinarian for Azura Consulting, and is a consultant and auditor for the Scientific Advisory Committee, Zoos and Aquariums, for the American Humane Association. He earned a doctorate in clinical sciences from Colorado State University in 2010 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1992.  Dr. Miller is also double board-certified in zoological medicine and animal welfare.

Dr. Miller’s talk is entitled, “Elk Hoof Disease: Navigating Biological and Sociological Complexities.”  Following his presentation, there will be time for a public question and answer period as well as an opportunity to speak with the candidate.

In 2017, the Washington legislature passed and funded legislation designating WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine as the lead organization for finding potential solutions for elk hoof disease.  The disease can cause profound lameness, sloughing of the hooves, and eventually death of affected animals. Nearly $1.52 million was provided to the college for establishing the new program.

The research program will involve collaboration with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Washington Department of Agriculture, Native American tribes and other national and international agencies that can lend expertise and field activities relative to elk ecology and well-being.