Elk NetworkWashington Encourages Hunters to Help Reduce Prevalence of Elk Hoof Disease

General | September 21, 2023

Below is a news release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the 2021 license year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife started a pilot program to evaluate how hunters can help reduce the prevalence of elk hoof disease. To do so, WDFW is offering incentives to hunters.

Elk hunter incentive information

For western Washington general season and most special permit hunters, WDFW is offering entry into an exclusive draw opportunity. Hunters can participate by submitting the hooves of their harvest to WDFW. If the hooves you submit display signs of hoof disease (abnormal hooves), you will have a chance to draw a premium elk tag the following license year. While the details about the incentive permits are still being worked out, these permits will offer a rare opportunity to hunt mature bull elk over large areas of western Washington and outside of general seasons using any weapon (except during general seasons, similar to multi-season tags). Check out the map below to see our convenient hoof drop off locations.

What should I look for while hunting?

Elk with hoof disease typically exhibit a limping gait or hold an affected hoof off the ground while stationary. When processing your elk harvest, carefully examine the animal’s hooves for lesions between the hoof claws, overgrown or cracked hoof claws, or sloughed hoof claws, which are common indications of the disease. If you decide to participate in the incentive program, take the hooves from the field to your nearest drop off location.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on elk hoof disease permits please review the Big Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet or contact Wildlife Program customer service.

Click here to view elk hoof collection sites.

(Video source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)