If you love the outdoors, state wildlife agencies could use your keen eyesight — especially in the Pacific Northwest. They need all the help they can get to spot lame elk.
Elk herds in that region have been hit hard by a devastating bacterial infection called Treponema-associated hoof disease, or TAHD. [NOTE: Pronounce as 4 letters.] These spirochete organisms work their way into an elk’s hooves, causing painful deformities that result in lameness.
TAHD first appeared in Washington state in the late ‘90s. Now it can affect up to 90 percent of the animals in an elk herd. No one knows how the infection is transmitted, but, at present, it doesn’t appear to affect other species. There’s no vaccine for TAHD, so the best option is to control the spread.
Lameness can also result from injuries, arthritis or other infections. But TAHD is an important cause in elk.