Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors
Oct. 7, 2015
Oregon wildlife biologists are asking help from hunters in tracking the spread of an unusual bacterial infection that causes deformed hooves in elk, resulting in severe lameness. Also this week, you’ll read that the chance of colliding with a deer on U.S. highways in 2015 is the same as it was last year, and much more!
Oregon: Watch For Limping Elk
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is asking hunters and others in northwest Oregon to be on the lookout for limping elk that may have a debilitating hoof disease.
Elk hoof disease is a bacterial infection that causes severe lameness in elk. Elk with the disease have deformed and overgrown or broken sloughed hooves and other hoof abnormalities (see image above or below) related to the infection
Elk hoof disease first appeared in southwest Washington elk herds between 2002-2005 and has become increasingly widespread over the past decade. In some Washington’s elk herds, 20- to 90 percent of the animals exhibit lameness. To date, the disease does not appear to be as widespread in Oregon.
Historically, ODFW has seen sporadic cases of hoof disease, but not until recently have veterinarians confirmed the presence of the multiple species of bacteria, including Treponema, that are believed to cause hoof disease in elk. Though antibiotics, foot baths, cleaning pens and other methods can help treat similar problems in livestock, there are no practical ways to treat free-ranging elk with hoof disease.
Hunters who harvest elk with deformed hooves or observe limping elk with symptoms of the disease are asked to contact the Oregon agency or the ODFW Health Laboratory at 866-968-2600, or e-mail their veterinarians at Wildlife.Health@state.or.us to arrange collection of the diseased hoof.
“Observations reported by the public are critical in mapping where the disease currently exists,” said Greg Reed, ODFW wildlife health lab biologist. “There is quite a bit to learn about this new disease in elk in Oregon and every new observation helps.”
West Virginia Tops List For Deer/Vehicle Accident Odds
For the ninth consecutive year, West Virginia tops the list of states where vehicular collisions with wild deer are more likely than any other state. The odds a driver in the Mountain State will collide with a deer are a staggering 1-in-44, though the numbers reflect an 11 percent decrease compared to 2014, when the odds were 1-in-39.
Annual claims data released last month by State Farm Insurance indicated that overall, United States’ drivers are just as likely to hit a deer as they were last year, with identical 1-out-of-169 odds, noting that the likelihood of collisions more than doubles during October, November and December.
Following West Virginia, the Top five states are Montana, with 1-in-63 odds (up 19.1 percent); Iowa, with 1-in-68 odds (up 13.2 percent); Pennsylvania, with 1-in-70 odds (up 1.4 percent ); and South Dakota, with 1-in-73 odds (up 12.3 percent).
The report noted that nearly 10 percent of all deer claims occur in Pennsylvania (126,275 collisions), though when taking into account the amount of licensed drivers in the state, West Virginia still edges out as No. 1 with a likelihood of 1-in-44 compared to Pennsylvania’s 1-in-70.
The national cost-per-claim average was $4,135, up 6 percent from 2014 ($3,888).
Ohio Bowhunter Dies in Michigan Tree Stand Accident
A tree stand-related fatality in Michigan last week serves as a tragic reminder to those using elevated stands to follow safety precautions while afield this season.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said a 45-year-old Ohio man died after falling from his tree stand on October 1, the opening day of archery deer hunting season, in Huron County.
At about 10 a.m. a DNR conservation officer arrived at the Verona State Game Area, responding to a call made by the victim’s hunting partner.
The officer and personnel responding from Central Huron Ambulance in Bad Axe performed CPR. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Preliminary investigation revealed the victim had shot a deer and had unfastened his safety harness to climb down from his tree stand. He was found lying next to a tree.
The complete circumstances surrounding the fall are still being determined. The cause of death is pending conclusive determination by the Huron County medical examiner.
The roughly 7,700-acre Verona State Game Area is located about six miles east of Bad Axe.
Utah High Court Upholds Right of Self Defense For Employees
The Utah Supreme Court has sided with a group of Wal-Mart employees who were fired after altercations with suspected shoplifters who were armed, ruling that the workers had the right to engage in self-defense.
The 4-1 ruling issued September 18 sends the wrongful termination lawsuit back to federal court, where five former Wal-Mart employees filed suit against the retailer. The employees — Derek Holt, Eric Hunter, Shawn Ray, Lori Poulsen and Gabriel Stewart — were fired in 2011 after the management for the mega-retailer contended they should not have used force against the suspected shoplifters.
In the case, Ray v. Wal-Mart Store, Inc., the court held that an employee’s right of self-defense overrules an employer’s right to fire an employee, including an employee who could be terminated without specific cause (an “at-will” employee.)
Wal-Mart fired the employees for violating company policy that “employees disengage, withdraw, and contact police if a shoplifter has a weapon, threatens to use a weapon, or becomes violent.” The fired employees claimed their termination violated their fundamental rights.
The court found the firings violated the exercise of a “legal right or privilege” and that the right to self-defense was so substantial and fundamental that there was “virtually no question as to [its] importance to the public good.”
Quote of the Week
“Everybody knows that the autumn landscape in the northwoods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a ruffed grouse. In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre. Yet, subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead.”
– Aldo Leopold,
The Sand County Almanac, 1949
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.