WDA members together with international, state, provincial, federal, and private agencies are intimately involved in efforts to preserve and improve the status of endangered species populations. Examples include efforts to protect the black-footed ferret from canine distemper and plague in the Rocky Mountain region of the Wyoming, USA;, protecting the health of the mountain gorilla in central Africa; chamois and ibex in Europe from respiratory diseases, and trying to control losses of Tasmanian devils associated with Devil facial tumor disease, and investigating factors contributing to the woylie decline in West Australia.
Game and Furbearing Animals
In many parts of the world indigenous people harvest and consume wildlife as part of meeting their social, religious and nutritional needs. In wealthier parts of the globe hunting and game harvesting opportunities have high monitary and social value. Extensive research and surveillance provides multiple benefits to wildlife consumers through private and public agencies by enhancing understanding of the impact of diseases on wild animal populations.
Many things threaten the health of wild animal populations and the habitats they depend on. WDA Members, working as and/or with wildlife biologists, investigate the effects of environmental toxins, global warming, habitat alterations, and introduction of exotic species on the health of native wildlife. When and where possible mitigation measures that contribute to species conservation are provided.
Some WDA members are engaged in translocation of wildlife between areas to re-establish historic populations. Efforts are made to prevent the introduction of disease and to monitor the health of animals following translocation, and to improve the handling and welfare of captured wild animals.
Veterinarians, clinically oriented specialists and other professionals affiliated with the WDA are increasingly interested in the rehabilitation of sick and injured wildlife, especially rare, threatened and endangered species. Information derived from rehabilitated wildlife helps reveal causes of wildlife morbidity and mortality.
Zoo veterinarians supervise the care of a large variety of species and provide husbandry and veterinary care for many captive populations of threatened and endangered species from all over the world. In addition, they work with wildlife and other resource managers on the management of free-ranging wildlife population health.
WDA members contribute substantially to knowledge about arthropod-borne encephalitis, rabies, tularemia, Lyme disease, hantaviruses, plague, environmental toxins, and many other wildlife diseases potentially affecting human health. WDA has had a “One Health” philosophy for more than 50 years.
Livestock and Poultry
Wildlife specialists participate in laboratory, clinical and field research to control diseases in wildlife that can be economically devastating to domestic livestock. Among these diseases are malignant catarrhal fever, brucellosis, tuberculosis, viscerotropic velogenic Newcastle disease, and African swine fever.
Many WDA members with specialty training in the health and biological sciences are involved in basic research using wildlife as models of diseases found in humans or domestic animals. Just as animals can serve as models for human disease investigations, human health data and methods can be useful for wildlife disease research.
Because no species exist independent of its environment, many WDA members are addressing the complex issues of ecosystem health. Topics of special concern include aquatic animal health, as many marine mammals and sea birds serve as biomarkers for the assessment of the health of the marine environment, and the multiple interactions resulting from human and domestic animal encroachment into wild habitats.
Wildlife Disease Ecology
Understanding the transmission dynamics and impacts of diseases in wildlife populations is crucial to the future conservation management of wildlife. Thus, members conduct research on both endemic and exotic diseases in wildlife populations, to understand the transmission, ecology and impacts of diseases in these populations and on the ecosystems that support them.