If you see an elk limping, report it right away to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The agency is currently tracking elk hoof disease after ODFW veterinarians confirmed Treponeme Associated Hoof Disease (TAHD) for the first time in Douglas County, Oregon.
According to ODFW, the cow elk, which was harvested by a hunter, had previously been seen “limping in the Indigo Unit east of Sutherlin” before testing positive for TAHD. It is the first case in Douglas County and the “southern-most location of a confirmed case” in the state. Since the first instance, an elk north of Oakland (but also in Douglas County) has also tested positive for TAHD and ODFW is currently awaiting test results from two additional elk that have been seen limping.
TAHD is “a bacterial-associated syndrome” that causes “severe lameness in elk.” It can create “deformed, overgrown, broken, or sloughed hooves” that makes walking painful, resulting in limping or lameness. If you notice an elk that seems to have trouble walking, please contact ODFW through this form.
Deer and moose do not seem to be affected by the disease and biologists are still unsure how it is transferred, according to ODFW. While the meat is still considered safe to eat, ODFW cautions those who harvest an elk with TAHD to use proper meat handling guidelines.
For more information about TAHD, check out ODFW’s fact sheet.