Hoof disease regulations extend after new rules are approved

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission looks to reduce the spread of hoof disease in elk, and made changes to their policies at their meeting last week.

The commission met August 4-5 in Olympia, adopting a measure that requires hunters to remove and leave behind the hooves of any elk harvested within six game management units in an effort to reduce the spread of elk hoof disease, a debilitating bacterial disease.

WDFW already requires these precautions in many management units in southwest Washington. The new rule adds two units in Mason County and four in north Puget Sound, where WDFW recently confirmed the presence of elk hoof disease.

The commission also voted to modify regulations for auction, raffle or special incentive permits for hunting elk. The changes clarify where permit holders can hunt and which animals can be legally hunted.

At the meeting, the commissioners agreed with recommendations from wildlife managers to keep leatherback sea turtles listed as a state endangered species and green sea turtles listed as state threatened species.

Changes to the spring bear hunting seasons in our area were heard, but no action was listed as being taken. Those changes proposed include expanding the hunting area near Copalis and reducing the number of permits available in the Long Beach area.

The commission also received briefings on a variety of issues including:

  • Proposed changes to Puget Sound clam and oyster seasons.
  • Staff recommendations on the protective status of yellow-billed cuckoos and loggerhead sea turtles.
  • Results of the 2016 Puget Sound shrimp and Dungeness crab fisheries.
  • WDFW’s 2018 legislative proposals and budget requests.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

The August meeting was the last for Miranda Wecker, who has served on the commission since March of 2005.  Her Wecker, a retired attorney who lives in Naselle, announced in late July that she was stepping down from her role as commissioner. Wecker is not listed on the official commission website, but her bio remains online.

Each commissioner is appointed to serve a six-year term. If a member resigns before their term expires, the Governor appoints a replacement within 60 days to complete the remainder of the term.

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