In March 1951, 28 US and Canadian wildlife biologists at the 16th North American Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee Wisconsin founded an organization called the Wildlife Disease Committee which in 1952 became the Wildlife Disease Association. The goal was to establish an international scientific organization dedicated solely to the study and understanding of the health of wild animals.
Dr. Carlton Herman, a scientist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, was the WDA's founding chairman (1951-1955) and first elected president (1959-1961). He also served as editor of Wildlife Disease, a microfiche journal, from 1959-1972. To learn more about Dr. Herman’s contribution WDA and the field of wildlife health go HERE.
Wildlife Disease evolved into the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, the primary peer-reviewed publication for global wildlife health issues and is the cornerstone of the WDA publications catalogue.
From its North American origins, the WDA has expanded to include six Geographic Sections which have further connected members across the globe. These sections: Australasia, Nordic, European, Africa Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America each hold a seat on the WDA Council, as well as undertaking activities in their own geographic regions. In addition, the Wildlife Veterinary Section is open to all members of the WDA and holds a seat on Council.
The WDA is governed by our Constitution and Bylaws and guided by our Mission and Charter of Values. The governing body is our Council which consists of 21 positions including the officers; president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer in addition to the past president, editor-in-chief, six members-at-large, seven section chairs and an elected student member.
The Association currently contracts with two positions, the executive manager, who runs the operational side of the WDA in coordination with the association management portion of Allen Press, and the editor-in-chief who in coordination with the publishing branch of Allen Press oversees production of the Journal of Wildlife diseases.
Member involvement is key to our growth
The Wildlife Disease Association is an international scientific society of wildlife professionals. We are biologists, ecologists, epidemiologists, research scientists, veterinarians, and other individuals involved with wildlife health, conservation, and related disciplines. We promote, research, management, education, communication, and collaboration.
Today's WDA has more than 1,500 members from over 70 countries around the world. We are a member-driven organization, where member involvement is strongly encouraged. Our seven sections serve to unite common interests and bridge disparate geographic regions.
The mission of the Wildlife Disease Association is to promote healthy wildlife and ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, and environmentally sustainable solutions to One Health challenges.
Strategic Plan 2021
In 2019 Council received and discussed the Futures Committee Report, which summarized a large range of initiatives that could be implemented to help grow membership and enhance benefits provided to members. In 2020 the ad hoc Strategic Committee was formed. This group represented members from across a broad range of gender, age, and geographic distribution. The committee using the information from the Futures Committee Report focused on two key concepts: 1. How do we make WDA more visible and a key player within its field? and 2. How do we increase our WDA family, and become an even more inclusive association that is well adapted to the changing times we live in? These concepts were defined in seven Strategic Vision objectives which resulted in 12 Strategic Goals to guide implementation of the plan. The Committee also proposed a new Mission Statement as well as a Charter of Values which includes eight statements of values which the WDA membership holds in common. The Strategic Plan was completed and approved by Council in August of 2021:
Charter of Values
In August 2021 the Council voted to adopt a Charter of values. These eight statements represent the basic, common goals and values that WDA members hold in common:
- That the conservation of biological diversity is of benefit and essential to human societies now and in the future;
- That the health of wild animals, humans and domestic animals are interconnected and interdependent within a shared environment (‘One Health’);
- That wildlife health is a global challenge transcending cultural and political boundaries and demanding international integration and cooperation of the scientific community, stakeholders and society;
- That knowledge of wildlife health is best achieved through rigorous science, recognition of other accumulated forms of knowledge (e.g. traditional, experiential, professional), and open and respectful debate;
- That our Association is most effective by being multidisciplinary, diverse, inclusive, fair and equitable;
- That communicating the science of our members and values of our Association through advocacy and outreach is integral to achieving our mission;
- That the future of our community and accomplishment of our mission depends on the fostering of student and early career learning and professional development;
- That our Association should conduct its business according to principles of environmental sustainability.