- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Wildlife agents concerned about a crippling elk hoof disease say they will be surveying elk in southwest Washington this summer and likely will euthanize those with severe symptoms.

The state Fish and Wildlife Department said Monday that wildlife managers hope to enlist volunteers to help them assess the prevalence of the disease in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills elk herds.

The department is also proposing new rules that would require hunters to leave behind the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area.

A scientific panel has said the disease most likely involves a type of bacterial infection.

The Wildlife Department’s Nate Pamplin says there is no vaccine and no proven options for treating the disease in the field.

Since 2008, the Wildlife Department has received increasing reports of elk with misshapen hooves in Cowlitz, Pacific, Lewis, Clark, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties.

Dr. Kristin Mansfield says there’s no evidence that the bacteria are harmful to humans.

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