Commission seeks Fish and Wildlife cooperation in study
Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to register formal displeasure with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission over the Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) handling of elk hoof rot disease.
Commissioners also worked on the Critical Area Ordinance update, the Marine Resources Committee work plan, and restoring funding to the Housing and Essential Needs services contract.
Commissioner Dan Cothren initially proposed the elk hoof rot disease statement as a press release, but Commissioners Blair Brady and Mike Backman said they should co-sign and submit it as a letter making a request at this week's meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
"Wahkiakum County is deeply troubled by the actions of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding the hoof rot disease affecting the Roosevelt Elk in Wahkiakum County," the letter begins. "The issue the county is having trouble with is why won't the commission let Dr. Boone Mora study this disease, which he has stated he will do on his own time and with little help from Fish and Wildlife. The county feels that Dr. Mora is being treated badly and downright rude, which seems to be political by nature."
Mora, a retired public health doctor, feels the disease is caused by Leptospira bacteria.
Cothren questioned the department's conclusion that the disease is Treponema because some of the department's studies show Leptospira present in the kidney's of some elk. The department should be working with Mora to confirm the cause of the disease, Cothren said.
Cothren said Mora needs freedom to work freely with wild elk and other hoofed wild animals over a five-year period to confirm the presence of Leptospira. Mora would need a veterinarian, a darter and a farrier to work with him.
"Treating lame elk in an attempt to cure the infection and to re-establish effective ongoing ambulation will be the first project, and preparing, testing and applying a vaccine will be a second project," the letter says. "At some point there may be a need to pasture some elk."
Mora feels that if the two projects are successful, then there is a good chance of reducing and even eradication of the hoof rot disease affecting the elk.
"Dr. Mora is nearly 83 years old and feels it would be an honor to be entrusted with this project," Cothren said.
In other business, Commissioners authorized Planning Director Chuck Beyer to see a price quote from a consultant for reviewing maps for the update of the county's Critical Area Ordinance.
The consultant would be charged with going through the county's ordinance and determining what sections need attention.
Beyer said public agencies have updated and developed many new maps since the county first wrote the ordinance. New information would show areas prone to landslides and liquefaction, flooding and other geological hazards.
Commissioners also approved an amendment to the contract between the county's Health and Human Services Department and the state Department of Commerce for Housing and Essential Needs. H&HS spokesperson Chris Holmes said the amendment would restore $4,115 in special housing needs funding that had been cut by the state.
The commission also approved changes to the Marine Resource Committee Work Plan.
Committee Chair Carrie Backman said the committee is dropping a dredging component, which has been largely accomplished through cooperation from the US Army Corps of Engineers, and components that would 1. develop two additional panels for the 12-panel Columbia River Fisheries Exhibit, and 2. fund projects involving Wahkiakum High School students who will monitor the abundance of fish in newly opened Dead Slough and plant trees to help restore habitat and also to monitor water temperatures in the slough.