The topic of hoof rot in the local elk population is the topic of a forum planned for this evening at the Cowlitz Regional Conference and Events Center, starting at 6 pm. Cowlitz County Commissioner Jim Misner helped to arrange this evening’s question-and-answer session, which will examine the root causes of hoof disease, possible decreases in herd size, the safety of eating diseased animals and other issues. Misner will be joined by Mark Smith of the Eco Park Resort near Toutle for this “open mic” event. Hoof rot has reportedly become a major issue for elk throughout this region, spiking sharply since 2008. Washington Fish and Wildlife is now studying the issue, and is now starting to develop some findings and recommendations. It’s speculated that a bacteria is causing the hoof disease, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Some possible intervention measures are also under consideration. WFDW is also planning some public meetings on hoof disease in southwest Washington elk, planned for next month in Vancouver and Chehalis. Tonight’s meeting is open to anyone interested.