Elk NetworkElk Hoof Disease Facility Receives $100,000 RMEF Grant

Conservation , News Releases | August 16, 2019

August 16, 2019

Elk Hoof Disease Facility Receives $100,000 RMEF Grant

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to assist with construction of its elk hoof disease research facility. Construction began in May on campus in Pullman, Washington.

“Hoof disease is affecting more and more elk in the Pacific Northwest,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This facility will give researchers a hands-on opportunity to better determine its cause as well as why and how it spreads.”

The $1.2 million, state-of-the-art structure is the only such operation of its kind in the world and will house captive elk needed to study the disease in a secure, controlled environment. It will cover four acres and include 10 isolations pens, a handling facility and two 1.5-acre holding pastures.

Based within the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, and with the oversight of WSU’s Environmental Health and Safety and animal care programs, the facility will provide optimal compliance with biosecurity and animal care and use regulation.

“I am eager to get started with research on captive elk that will be housed in the facility,” said veterinarian Margaret Wild, the lead scientist for the program. “RMEF’s generous contribution could not have come at a better time during construction. This is the first grant we’ve received to supplement our funding and it makes it apparent the organization and its members, along with WSU, are dedicated to ensuring elk herds remain healthy and viable for future generations.”  

Elk hoof disease is known in the scientific community as Treponeme-associated hoof disease or TAHD. Biologists confirmed the disease in elk herds across much of southwest Washington as well as southern Oregon and western Idaho.

Findings from research conducted at the facility will assist wildlife agencies to better manage the impacts of hoof disease in elk populations.

“We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Margaret Wild, lead scientist during a visit to RMEF headquarters. We look forward to working with her and her staff to learn more about this disease,” added Henning.

RMEF provided funding in the past to assist the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with hoof disease testing and research.

In 2019 alone, RMEF so far donated more than $1 million in research funding for the benefit of elk-related science.